Fundraising for a good cause isn’t as simple as asking people for donations – with increasing competition among charities there are now very sophisticated marketing techniques created specifically to support fundraisers. Here are 10 key steps to follow to create that perfect fundraising email.
1. Know your audience
While you may have a subscriber list of thousands of people who have signed up to receive information it’s important to understand who those people are and what drives them. A catch-all email sent out to your entire subscriber list just won’t work – you need to segment the list.
2. Deciding when to send
Sending out emails at different times of day can elicit a different response from the person who receives it. Test your audience by sending out at different times of day to see how it impacts on open rates.
3. Deciding on your subject line
Around one-third of email recipients make the decision about opening an email, solely based on the subject line alone so you need to write something that will grab their attention, while making sure it doesn’t end up in the spam filters at the same time.
There is much research around the best subject lines, and those to avoid, so have a look online for advice and guidance to make sure your subject line doesn’t mean your carefully crafted email ends up caught as spam. For proper subject line advice, try Viawriting and Bigassignments.
Personalizing the greeting at the start of your email can significantly increase the open rate. Most email tools will do this for you as long as you have the right data stored within your email list. You can try different methods of personalization, for example, Dear Mark, or Dear Mark Jones.
5. Use storytelling
Storytelling is a great device to help generate empathy among your donors and encourage them to give by relating and connecting to the people in the story. You want them to relate to the characters and emotionally respond. People donate because they want to make a difference or improve something in the world, so show them how they can do that with you.
6. Make good use of images
Images should be original – not stock photographs – and really portray the work the organization carries out and the difference a donor could make by taking part. It is always good to use pictures of people, preferably one person who the reader can connect with – the main character in your story perhaps.
7. Make your story short and sweet
While it’s important to tell a good story, you don’t need to write a novel. Keep the email text short and sweet and try to tell the story in just a few paragraphs as no-one likes to have to keep scrolling through miles of text.
“Use images and videos to break up the text and keep the person interested as well,” Academized communications manager and HuffingtonPost writer and editor Shirley Dwyer said. “You can often say far more by showing video clips of the work, than by describing it in writing, so think about your audience and what will work best. Videos should also be very short.”
8. Have a clear call to action
A fundraising email is designed to raise funds so make it really clear what you want the recipient to do. Have clear “Donate Now” buttons for them to click on, and make it very obvious what you are asking for.
9. Make sure your email works on mobile devices
Almost half of people open their emails on their mobile phone so make sure your email works on a mobile layout as well and is optimized to adjust to a mobile shape and size – you need your call to action buttons to be clear and working otherwise the email will be pointless.
10. Include your contact details
Make sure all of the organization contact details are included in the footer of the email, both for legal reasons and to allow your donors to get in touch if they need to.
Creating a fundraising email which is segmented to be of use to your audience, tells a compelling story in a quick and engaging way, and makes good use of imagery and video, will help to keep engagement and open levels up.