6 Steps to Better Email Fundraising

March 11th, 2011 by Anthony Schneider

Over the past few years, we’ve come to know a range of nonprofits, from Outward Bound to the Wharton School. And while they have very different shapes and mandates, all have one thing in common: fundraising. After several online and email fundraising campaigns, a lot of trial and a little error, we can offer six ideas to help your next online campaign achieve better results.

1. Highlight the Touchpoints

Everyone is sending emails asking for money. So what sets you apart? Is there a particular accomplishment, some reason the recipient should be especially cognizant of your organization. Be more specific, be unusual. You need to stand out.

2. Upgrade Design and Copy

Your email should be relatively short, well written and beautifully designed. It’s a crowded party, so you need to differentiate yourself. And you have to look good and sound good to do so.

3. Segment Your List

The bigger your database the more people you can reach. The more you segment the more people you can engage. We recommend most of our nonprofit clients segment their fundraising lists, then segment them some more. If you aren’t segmenting your list, then start now and build off that initial segmentation rubric.

4. Track Donors and Conversions

Tracking is vital, and nonprofit fundraising is no exception. Track donations, so that you don’t send a reminder email to someone who has already given, and you can send thank you emails to your donors. Tracking will also allow you to measure success and establish targets for your next year or next fundraising campaign.

5. Say Thank You (Not Just Please)

Most fundraisers send out campaign emails, often multiple emails, but forget to send out thank you emails, even after a successful campaign. For some of our clients, like Outward Bound and the University of the Witwatersrand,  we send post-event emails that highlight the success of the event, link to event photos, and, of course, say thanks. Similarly, a recent matching campaign for the Wharton School, saw a post-campaign thank you that went to all donors, thanking them for their support and summarizing the success of the campaign. Listen to your mother: say please and thank you.

6. Think Outside the Box

Try something different, look somewhere new. For some nonprofits, that means tapping corporate funding. For others, linking the email to a video of the nonprofit — or campus or a special event or testimonial — will engage your audience. Others find that games or sweepstakes or discount cards valid at participating merchants are effective ways to get undecided potential donors off the fence.