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Simple ways to write an efficient fundraising email to engage donors

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What is the best way to approach donors and launch a successful fundraising campaign? The question is difficult because it all depends on the nature of your organization and its earlier activities, but experience taught me that emails have the highest potential to engage donors. Niche reports prove this statement as fundraising email based marketing and promotional campaigns generate more than a quarter of all online nonprofit revenue annually. 

But every charity organization seems to be using the same tactic these days, so how can you make your messages stand out in the crowd of other emails? Keep reading to learn seven simple ways to write an effective fundraising email and engage donors. 

Talk to the right audience.

Your organization probably has thousands of email subscribers, but do they all belong to the same donor segment? We bet the answer is negative because people tend to subscribe to charity newsletters for all sorts of reasons. As a result, they demand different types of approaches. 

How can you divide the audience into meaningful segments to make the most of your fundraising campaigns? There are a few common segmentation methods:

  • Form groups of subscribers based on common demographic features like age and location.
  • Create segments according to average gift sums or donation dates.
  • Divide subscribers based on donation frequencies.

Create a standout subject line.

One of the most difficult steps in this process is writing a standout subject line. The task is hard because subject lines have to be appealing and concise at the same time. 

As for the length of your subject line, I don’t recommend using more than 50 characters because it won’t be visible on all devices and displays. 

Besides that, subject lines should use a marketing tactic like urgency to drive instant engagement. It is also good to add numbers to the headline because it reveals the purpose of the message and makes it feel tangible and concrete.

Tell a story.

The best fundraising emails are actually stories that inspire people and encourage them to take the corresponding action. You should use the same tactic to evoke emotions and inspire potential donors. 

Emotions that work well in these situations are sadness and fear, but you can also send a more optimistic message packed with hopefulness and joy. In each case, the goal is to evoke empathy and convince donors that your project is worth supporting.

Explain how it makes a difference. 

Tip number four augments the previous one on our list. 

Namely, some people will remain suspicious despite reading a heartbreaking story, so you’ll need to show them something more than that. For example, a survey showed that almost 80 percent of millennials would stop donating if they didn’t know how the donation was making an impact.

Your job is to convince donors that they are doing the right thing by explaining how your program makes a difference. Here are a couple of practical examples: 

  • $50 is all it takes to provide daily food supplies for 100 children from low-income families.
  • Donate $100, and you will help us save 300 rainforest trees.

Mind the structure of your email.

The structure of your fundraising email is another thing you should pay attention to. A well-structured message is easier to skim and scan, so it makes a greater impact on subscribers who don’t have enough time to read the entire message. Here are a few tips for you:

  • Divide the message into smaller paragraphs.
  • Use a simple and conversational language.
  • Highlight keywords and important messages.
  • Use whitespace to divide different components of your email.
  • Make a standout call to action (CTA).

Add only one CTA.

Speaking of CTAs, you should remember to include only one CTA button in a fundraising email. This is important because two or more options can make donors feel confused and fend them off. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean you cannot put the same CTA in multiple positions in your email. You are free to do that as long as it doesn’t interfere with the message structure or the overall readability of an email. 

Turn donations into a simple process.

The final suggestion is to make the donation process as simple as it gets. This basically means that subscribers who decide to take action can do it in no more than a few clicks. 

For example, your CTA can lead them straight to the landing page where they can fill in the necessary details and complete the donation. Don’t bother your donors with unnecessary form fields, but rather let them share only the most relevant information.

At the same time, you must enable multiple payment options and give donors the chance to make donations using popular online payment platforms like PayPal and Stripe.

The bottom line

Although it looks easy, crafting a perfect email to raise donations requires a lot of work and strategic copywriting. In this post, we analyzed seven ways to write an effective fundraising email that could help you to engage donors. 

Have you already used some of these email writing techniques? Share your experiences with the Candid team by emailing [email protected] (we may share your responses on social media unless you tell us not to) or by tweeting at @Candid_Learning.


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