Fundraising Emails That Actually Raise Money
When it comes to digital fundraising, email is the cash cow — when used correctly.
This powerful medium allows you to connect with your supporters when you need to. Even more important, it’s easy for your audience to react to timely asks: Just a few clicks, and they’ve supported the vital work you make possible. No need to find their checkbook, or walk to the mailbox. No need to Google your organization or navigate to your site.
That said, it’s also very easy to do email incorrectly. Muddle your message, bury your ask, or soft-pedal the need, and you’re not using this lucrative channel to its fullest potential.
Ready to get started? Here are 8 tips and best practices to bear in mind as you put pen to paper – or in this case, fingers to keys:
- Break the “rules.” Email is a casual medium, so write like you talk, not like you’re in Junior AP English. Sentence fragments? Great! Ending a sentence with a preposition? Do it! Starting a sentence with an “and” or a “but”? Yes! Using contractions? DON’T WORRY ABOUT THEM.
- Put the urgency front-and-center. Remember: Your donors are not yours alone. They could be on your competitors’ email lists and likely have many other causes close to their hearts. So tell them: Why is it important that your donor base gives to this campaign, now?
- Think about topics. Avoid fundraising on vague pretenses. Even if you are raising unrestricted funds, tell your donors the type of vital work their gift can fund — and might hang in the balance without donor support.
- Now, think tactics. What you say is as important as how you say it. So consider how to deliver your message. Think matching gift challenges, public deadlines, and goals. Think listicles, “supporter record” cards, and infographics. Ask yourself: “Does my message pop?” If the answer is no, go back to the drawing board.
- Make the donor your hero. Your donors need to know that you rely on their support and deeply appreciate their dedication. They are what turns your mission into action. Make sure they know it!
- One 👏ask👏 per 👏 email. Don’t split your clicks! Every link in your fundraising message should drive to the same place: a donate page. This isn’t the newsletter to educate them, cultivate them, ask them to take an advocacy action or invite them to share feedback. All clicks should point them in a single direction: Give Now.
- Cut to your first ask quickly. Think of the email as the famous inverted news pyramid: Share your most compelling argument first, then cut to the ask. Then, keep building your case with your second-best argument, then cut to the next ask. Use at least 2-3 Calls to Action (CTAs) per email, and remember to cut to the chase! Within three paragraphs, you should build a case for support and pivot to your first direct ask. Speaking of.
- Use declarative calls to action (CTAs). Yes, we want to be polite — and in our daily lives, we should be! But when it comes to email fundraising, people respond to a firm, direct ask. Instead of saying “Please consider a gift today,” say “Progress lies in your hands. Don’t let us fall short. Give now.”
Fundraising writing is equal parts art and science. Good writing matters, but so does adhering to established best practices. So build your case, establish the needs, and ask your audience directly for their support … multiple times.
And finally, a parting pep talk: Don’t be bashful about asking for money. If you believe the funds you’re raising will change the world (and we hope you do!), you can’t be shy. Go forth, raise funds, track your KPIs, and do some good.
Happy fundraising writing! If you’re already trying these tips and need a boost, our award-winning fundraising team is always here to help your online fundraising program. Let us know how we can be of service today.