Person types fundraising email campaign for nonprofit

How to Write a Fundraising Email: Use These 7 Tips to Boost Conversions

The social media gurus will tell you – email marketing for nonprofits is dead. But we’re here to counteract that claim. 

It’s hard to believe, especially when the world is so full of the latest TikTok and Instagram trends, that emails still serve a purpose. 

But in reality, email marketing gives one of the highest returns on investment for nonprofit organizations. 

So, we’re here to help you learn how to write a fundraising email with our top 7 tips to help you boost conversions! 

 

Person types a fundraising email on laptop

 

Do Fundraising Emails Work for Nonprofits? 

First and foremost, we want to get this question out of the way. Do fundraising emails even work for nonprofits? 

Absolutely, they do. 

According to statistics on online fundraising for nonprofits, 33% of donors said that email is the #1 communication tool that inspires them to give. And that number increased from 31% in 2018! 

Not to mention, that email statistic beats social media, which came in at 18% as the most inspirational for donors. 

And 48% of donors claimed that consistent email communication is the marketing tool that encourages them to opt into recurring giving.  

When done well and consistently, the statistics show that nonprofit email fundraising does work! 

 

What Makes a “Good” Fundraising Email? 

So, if it does work – then what makes a “good” fundraising email? Ultimately, you need to know that what’s “good” for your nonprofit organization may not be what’s “good” for another. 

That’s because audiences differ. People prefer different things when it comes to emails. Some want short fundraising emails that give them the call to action quickly. 

Others want longer emails so they can understand more about what they’re donating for. 

It’s subjective based on your audience. So the best way to know what makes a “good” fundraising email is to test it. But we’ll get to that in a minute! 

The other thing you can do to make sure your emails are hitting the mark is practice using our 7 tips on how to write a fundraising email! 

 

How Long Should a Fundraising Email Be? 

The length of fundraising emails for nonprofits falls under the same category as above. It truly depends on what your audience prefers. 

But, we’re working with a population that is using social media apps like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and even LinkedIn. 

And with that, attention spans are growing shorter. So it’s more than likely in your best interest to save long-form content for things like articles or your nonprofit email newsletters. 

For fundraising email best practices, try to limit the length to no more than 25 lines. See how well your audience responds to emails that are 25 lines or shorter. 

Fundraising emails that are around 250-300 words also tend to do better than those that are any longer. 

 

How Often Should You Send Fundraising Emails? 

In any nonprofit email marketing campaign, it’s a good idea to have a healthy mix of nonprofit newsletters and fundraising emails. 

You don’t want to constantly bombard your readers with emails that solely ask for donations. They’ll quickly come to believe that they’re nothing more than a price tag. 

 

*PRO TIP* That’s not to say you can’t ask for donations in your nonprofit newsletters. We just mean you shouldn’t solely ask for donations in those nonprofit newsletters. Direct them to other places on your nonprofit website or social media accounts where they can interact with you. Read more about nonprofit newsletters here! 

If your email marketing team can handle it, it’s a great idea to send out 2-4 emails per month. Within those emails, try having 80% of them as nonprofit newsletters and 20% of them as fundraising emails. 

 

7 Tips on How to Write a Fundraising Email to Boost Conversions

 

1. Hook Your Reader with a Stellar Subject Line

How many times have you opened up your personal email inbox and scrolled right past certain emails, leaving them for later? 

It happens to all of us. Some of them just don’t look interesting. So, when we have so many others we can choose from, we tend to leave the “boring” looking emails for last. And by last, we mean … for the “delete” button. 

One of the top fundraising email best practices is hooking your readers with a stellar subject line. 

Here’s how to go about doing it: 

  • Pique their curiosity. Write something that’s so out of the ordinary, that they immediately think, “huh! I wonder what that’s about!” Statistics often work well here. 

  • Leave them hanging. Many writers have practiced this a time or two in their novels. TV shows do it between episodes. Even movies do it when they know there’s going to be a sequel. They leave the audience hanging. It’s called “opening a loop.” And it leaves readers saying, “I have to know what happens next!” 


  • Mention their name every so often. Seeing their own name in their inbox is a bit startling! It jars them out of the endless scrolling of boring subject lines. Don’t do it every time, otherwise they’ll come to expect it. But, try it every so often to see how they respond! 

 

 

2. Skip the “Hi, [Name]” at the Very Beginning of the Email 

When we write fundraising emails, we often start the email off just like any other letter. “Hi, [Name],” or even, “Hello, [Name].” 

But here’s the thing – almost every other organization is doing it, too. Not only that, but most for-profit companies do it, as well. 

That means every time they open an email, they’re greeted with the same welcome. And just like using their name in the subject line, readers come to expect it. 

Suddenly, it becomes boring. It becomes another thing they can gloss right over. 

So instead of using “Hi, [Name],” try jumping right into what you’re wanting to say in your fundraising email. 

Then, in the middle of your fundraising email, use their name naturally in a sentence. This quickly draws their attention back to what you’re talking about. It’s a great way to counteract those short attention spans we mentioned earlier! 

 

3. Limit Potential Distractions

In a nonprofit newsletter, it’s completely fine to have multiple calls to action. You can direct them to your latest blog posts or social media posts. You can ask them to volunteer. You can point them in the direction of your “Our Story” page on your nonprofit website. 

But when it comes to how to write a fundraising email? You want to limit any possible distractions. So rather than offering your reader the opportunity to click on links to get to multiple places on your site, only offer them the option to go to your donation page. 

 

 

4. Give them a “Donate” Link 3 Times

Yes, you should only have one call to action if you want to keep up with fundraising email best practices. 

But that means you want them to do only one thing – go to your online donation page. Generally, people won’t click the link if you just have it once in your email. 

They need to see it a few times before they deem it important enough to follow through. 

So, keep your call to action the same. But have around 3 links in your email to really encourage them to get there! 

 

5. Personalize Your Fundraising Emails So They’re Relevant to Your Reader

Nothing feels more awkward than getting an email that feels like it wasn’t written for you. 

Your readers probably feel the same way. So, you’ll want to personalize your fundraising emails so it feels like it is meant for them. 

For example, how unnatural would it be to get an email that says “based on your last contribution of $30…” yet, you’ve never donated to the organization before. 

The best way to go about this is by segmenting your audience! You can do this in your email marketing software. Then, you can personalize your fundraising emails so they’re relevant to your target audience. 

 

6. Get Uber Specific with How They Can Help

It’s nonprofit copywriting 101 – specificity sells more than vague responses. Your readers want a crystal clear understanding of where their money is going and how they are helping your mission. 

Because, in the for-profit world, confused minds don’t buy. And in the nonprofit sector, confused minds don’t donate. 

When it comes to how to write a fundraising email, you want to get as specific as possible. If $15 helps fill a child’s backpack with needed school supplies, then say so. If your organization needs $30 to give a family of four clean drinking water, then let your reader know that. 

 

7. Always Check Your Reporting

As we’ve mentioned, you can follow all of the fundraising email best practices. But ultimately, your audiences will tell you what they do and don’t like. 

It’s just a matter of checking in on your reporting and analytics! Your nonprofit email marketing software can help you monitor how well your fundraising email campaigns are doing. 

You can track analytics such as open rates and click-through rates. And you can determine what’s working and what’s not for your audience! 

 

When it’s done correctly, email fundraising is one of the best ways to boost donations for your mission. 

And our top 7 tips on how to write a fundraising email are going to help you connect with your readers even more! 

If you’re ready to double down on email marketing, then we suggest checking out this training at our sister site, CharityHowTo! 

 

Get Your Seat in the Training on How to Create a Newsletter That Motivates Donors to Give and Give Again!

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