Best ways to Solicit Donations Online through Email

E-mail fundraising is a great way to maximize your organization’s revenue at a very low overhead. It is a tactic that all non-profits should explore, but many are not. Organizations that shy away from e-mail fundraising are missing out on a big source of potential income. While e-mail fundraising can be very beneficial to a non-profit, it can also be challenging to implement it successfully.

E-mail fundraising is a great way to maximize your organization’s revenue at a very low overhead. It is a tactic that all non-profits should explore, but many are not. Organizations that shy away from e-mail fundraising are missing out on a big source of potential income. While e-mail fundraising can be very beneficial to a non-profit, it can also be challenging to implement it successfully.

Seven best practices for launching a successful e-mail fundraising campaign:

1. Identify a clear goal for the campaign

Supporters want to know what you are doing with this money and what the main fundraising goal is. Make sure to identify your main fundraising goal before you start your campaign. It’s impossible to articulate your goal to other’s if you haven’t identified it yourself. Make the fundraising goal specific, easy to understand and meaningful.

2. Identify your audience

When sending a fundraising “ask” you want to make sure you are targeting a specific audience, ideally one that the organization has a previous established relationship with. These people have good reason to trust your organization and pass your email on to others.

3. Build a Quality Email List

Comprise a working list of your donors and volunteers and people who have given you permission to contact them. These are the people you want to reach out to – those with previous connections and relationships with your organization. Get in touch with people who haven’t given email addresses and ask for them. Be honest and let them know you are starting an e-newsletter and want to stay in touch through e-mail.

4. Stay in Touch

Before sending solicitation e-mails, build rapport with your audience. Newsletters are a great way to get your audience engaged and interested in your work. Newsletters should be mission based, providing updates, news, and stories along with pictures of your non-profit in action. This type of communication allows you to stay in front of your donors in a non-threatening manner.

5. Write Solicitation Email

After you have built rapport with your audience it is now time to send the solicitation e-mail. This email should be concise and written in a casual, personal tone. Not only should you spell out why you’re asking for money, but you should be very specific on what that money will do. For example, don’t say you need $1,000 to fund a soup kitchen, say you need $250 for the cook, $300 for the soup supplies and ingredients, $100 for chairs, etc. This allows donors to see exactly where their donation is going and why you need it. Make sure to include bold hyperlinks that link to your website or donation page. Making these words bold will make it easier for your recipients to find the links as they scan through the message and in turn increase your click-through rate.

6. How Often?

Many non-profits make the critical mistake of cluttering their donor’s inboxes with an overabundance of repetitive emails. Not only will this annoy and anger your supporters, but it will lower your open rates. This will also cause your users to unsubscribe from your emails, which you do not want. Try to avoid sending e-mails that lack robust information, news, or announcements, and stick to only sending e-mails that are worth something to your readers. E-mail newsletters should be sent at least once every other month, but NO more than monthly. Solicitation e-mails should be sent at least once per year, but no more than quarterly.

7. Track it

Every organization is different. Some things that work great for one non-profit, might not work for another. The only way to understand what is working for your unique organization is to track everything! Track e-mail open rates, unsubscribe rates, click-through rates, contributions, and the growth rate of the list. Analyze the data to see what is and isn’t working for your organization and adjust accordingly.

S. Slade Sundar

S. Slade Sundar is a senior executive, strategist, and international speaker on topics including fundraising, endurance registration, millennial management, performance culture, and online technology.

As the Chief Operating Officer of Forte Interactive, Slade leads marketing, operations, human resources, and product development, while overseeing a staff of Millennial employees.
S. Slade Sundar
S. Slade Sundar
S. Slade Sundar is a senior executive, strategist, and international speaker on topics including fundraising, endurance registration, millennial management, performance culture, and online technology. As the Chief Operating Officer of Forte Interactive, Slade leads marketing, operations, human resources, and product development, while overseeing a staff of Millennial employees.
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