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Six simple ways to write an effective fundraising email that engages donors

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Emails continue to be one of the most effective and affordable methods of online fundraising and building long-lasting relationships with donors. A well-crafted fundraising email offers you the opportunity to inform donors of your projects and needs, as well as mobilizing them to take action.

Here are six simple steps to help you write an effective and engaging fundraising email to donors.

Segment your contacts.

Building a positive and trusting relationship with donors is essential. Sending them emails, which are personalized and relevant, will lead to higher conversion rates, so it’s essential that you segment your contacts appropriately. Although there are multiple ways in which to segment your subscribers, some of the most effective groupings include those that are based on age, frequency of donations, donation sizes, or their latest donation date.

Write an engaging subject line.

The subject line is one of the most important aspects of your entire email, as it will often dictate whether readers will even open the email. An ideal subject line should be short (preferably less than 60 characters) and create a sense of urgency, using words such as “important” or “urgent.” Personalizing the subject line by using your contact’s first name is also effective, as is using a question to hook the reader. Above all, it’s essential that your subject line is accurate.

Ensure your content is formatted correctly.

Many people will simply skim the content of your email. As such, it’s important to keep it short and succinct. Ideally, you should aim to limit your email to approximately three paragraphs. You should use one font throughout, making use of italics or bold text to highlight important information. To hook readers, capture their attention, and make sure to break up large chunks of text, as well as use headlines and subheadings when appropriate.

“Avoid using too many colors or images in your email as this can make it seem overcrowded and difficult to read. Instead, ensure that there is plenty of white space and use only a few select images to engage your reader. Above all, make sure that your email is easy to read on any device, especially mobiles. Similarly, all links should be easy to access and link to the correct page,” says Mary McFarland, a nonprofit blogger at Writinity and Researchpapersuk.

Use emotive language.

The most successful fundraising emails are those which connect with donors on a human level. To this end, storytelling is extremely important, especially now during the coronavirus (COVID-19) era, as it can help your cause stand out. Make sure that you share a story with donors, which is emotive and compelling. Throughout your email, avoid using industry jargon. Instead, use simple language, alongside active verbs and descriptive language.

Have one clear call-to-action.

Your email should be focused and have one clear call-to-action, which donors can easily follow.  “Make sure that your call-to-action is mentioned and explained early on in the email text. You can then include a donate button as well. It’s also worth experimenting with different phrases to see which are the most successful, such as “Donate now,” or “Help us achieve our goal.” Tracking your metrics and doing A/B tests can be helpful for identifying which strategies are most effective with your donors,” explains Adam Brown, an email marketer at Draftbeyond and Last Minute Writing.

Highlight the importance of donor contributions.

Many donors will be more likely to want to donate if they know how their contributions are being used. Present readers with the problem and your solution, whilst clearly demonstrating how donors’ contributions are part of that solution. Provide readers with specific examples of how their donations are being used and the impact they have. Make sure that you also thank donors for their help, including thanking them for taking the time to read your email and consider your request for support.

When creating a fundraising email, make sure that you have one clear call-to-action throughout. Ensure that the content is simple, easy to read, and emotive. Carefully craft your subject line, so it is captivating. Also, ensure that you segment your contacts to enable you to send personalized emails, which are more likely to be read and acted upon. The more authentic you are in your email campaign, the more trust you can build with donors, who will subsequently be more likely to continue to support you in the future.


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