Using Email to Make Your Next Fundraiser a Success

It’s the fundraising season – lots of events, walks, special campaigns are coming up and of course, a big deal for many nonprofits: the end of the year appeal. According to research, the last week of December is the biggest giving week of the year, and it will be here before you know it.

Now is the time to start warming up your supporters for your event or that end of the year appeal. Cold calls rarely result in big donations or ongoing monthly financial support. Reliable donors are people you have built relationships with over time. 

If you want to have a strong relationship with your donors by the end of the year, start now.

How do you start? It’s easier than you think – start sending emails.

Think of weekly emails as a really long breadcrumb trail to your next fundraiser. Begin to reach out every week to your donors by email. Add to your email list any people who support and love your organization but haven’t given money – YET – and add your board members too.

Regular weekly emails will help you build relationships with this key group of people. You can use email to keep reminding your donors that your organization is still alive and serving, even during COVID-19. You can tell them how you’re finding new ways to serve, or how you’ve adapted, also catch them up on ways you’re using this time wisely, and that their support means everything to you and the people you serve. Tell a story of someone you’ve helped, share a photo or two, and remind your donors that their support makes it possible. 

Send an email to your donors once a week – start now!

Here’s how:

First, use a free email marketing tool like Mailchimp that will help you:

  • Build a professional-looking email.
  • Keep track of your email list in an organized way.
  • Design professional looking emails.

Every weekly email needs:

  • Your logo, or at least a picture of something that represents your organization. Put it in the header and also link the logo to your website or Facebook page.

  • A short letter of 3-5 sentences talking to your donors. Tell a story, describe something that happened. Don’t get too lengthy – keep your entire email to less than 200 words or 20 lines. And remember what your readers are asking: “What’s in this for me?” when you’re writing your email. Remind them that their support makes what you do possible. Make them the hero.
  • Links – Add a link saying, “Follow us on Facebook!” or “Learn more about our organization” with a link to your website, or give some kind of call to action that will encourage the reader to do more.

  • An interesting, punchy subject line – Save writing the subject line for last, then you’ll have some ideas from your email. What would make you want to open an email? Pay attention to the subject lines from the emails you open and try using those as inspiration.

Remember to make it about them.

Let’s say you’re writing a quick weekly email to touch base with your donors and give them an update on your outreach program.

First, inspire them. Tell them a quick story of a life you changed, or share a picture and a caption about someone you’ve served.

Second, thank them for supporting and praying for your organization.

Third, add any important information or ways they can help – a donation link, items your organization needs, anything else they should know about. Keep any donation links low-key, it’s not time for the “big ask” yet. You’re just warming them up to the idea and building your relationship until the end of the year or your next big event.

Remember, if you show them gratitude and grace, they will remember. Their loyalty and support of your organization will grow.

If you start now, by the time your next fundraiser event comes around, you’ll be ready to reach out to your donors and supporters to ask them to attend or give because you’ve been cultivating your relationship with them. They’ve been seeing your organization’s emails pop up in their inbox each week. Even if they don’t open them, they’re still getting a reminder that you’re there.

Don’t let your donors forget about you in this crazy time. They want to know what’s going on with your organization. Give them that quick weekly update, say thank you, and remind them that they are someone’s hero.

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