Fundraising email best practices to drive donations: a success story

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Fundraising email best practices to drive donations: a success story

How Sacred Hearts and St. Stephen Church raised $47,987 in 3 months by sending emails.

SACRED HEARTS & ST. STEPHEN CHURCH, Brooklyn raised 50% of their total annual donations in the last 3 months, through email marketing. Their regular emails to donors included strategically placed online giving links, and helped them achieve high response rates.

Do it right, and you can also expect a return on investment by as much as 3800%!

What they did right.

# Regular emails to donors with useful information. The emails and the website homepage are synced to reflect the same information.

st martin de porres parish

# Using visible donation links on both the emails and website.

st stephen church

# One branded, donation page that clearly states the purpose. It also prompts new users to sign up and old users to sign in and continue with their donation.


# An entirely opt-in list for new guests.

The users sign up once for all future donations and the data is also automatically synced with the donor management system, across all devices.

fundraising email guest list

3 Fundraising emails best practices

Just remember that not all fundraising emails are created equal—you need to make yours stand out from the crowd. 

Emailing allows you both to convert your prospects into donors and to retain them.

Follow these best practices to ensure that your email fundraising campaign drives high response rates.

📌 # 1: Determine your objectives and analyze your target

◆ Specific objectives:

The first question to ask yourself is: “Why create an Emailing?” “. What do you expect from it? If your answer comes down to “money, of course!” You are on the wrong track.

Of course, the goal will often be to raise more funds. However, it is an end, not an objective. This purpose is made up of multiple objectives, some of which can be achieved through Emailing.

To fundraising through emails as a long term strategy, you must make yourself more visible, gain new members, generate more traffic on your website. Define the objectives for your organization before starting an email marketing campaign.

◆ In- depth knowledge of the target:

Creating an email is your opportunity to deliver a message. This message must be easy to understand and appealing. To deliver the right message, you absolutely need to know your target audience inside out.

What are the needs, expectations and behaviors of your target? What are their concerns, their centers of interest?

You must determine very precisely the typical profile of your target in order to hit the mark. Very often, you will determine different profiles. You understand that you will not be able to communicate in the same way with profile A and profile B. To create an effective e-mailing, it will often be essential to segment your contact database in order to best adapt your message. 

📌 # 2: Make a good first impression

To create an email that will allow you to achieve your goals, you must already do everything to ensure that it is opened by the recipient! If no one is reading your email, you can be sure that you won’t get visits to your website or donations.

You must do everything to make them want to open your emails, and that starts with getting them to open it. This involves optimizing:

◆ The name of the sender:

Present yourself in your best light. Forget the “Contact” type names and prefer a more personal identity such as your first name or even “The COMPANY NAME team”;

◆ The subject of your email:

It should be clear and concise. Your title should not be too long to be read in full from a smartphone;

◆ The Preheader:

This is the first line of text in your email. It is this line that appears next to / below your subject line in your email inbox. The Preheader allows you to bring additional information to your object.

Unfortunately, most of the time, there is the famous mention “If you are not viewing this e-mail correctly…”. The Preheader is therefore for you the opportunity to gain a little advantage over your competition!

The time of sending:

Another criterion having a direct influence on the open rate is the time of sending. There is no typical optimal time, it varies by industry and target. It’s up to you to do various tests and analyze the statistics.

📌# 3: Engage your recipients

You have convinced the recipient to open your email. You must now hold their interest with your content, long enough for them to want to take action.

Relevant content

Creating effective email marketing inevitably requires relevant content. Relevant content is content that respects two imperatives.

The content must above all be clearly related to the subject of your email. The subject of your email is a promise made to the recipient. The content must be up to par.If you have been too promising with your subject and the content does not follow, your email will immediately end up in the trash.

Then your content must be adapted to your target: At what time does your target consult emails? From which devices? What content are they looking for?

We usually say that a relevant communication strategy, in the age of the Internet and social media, is only 20% promotional content for 80% high added value content.

So do not drown your target with promotional emails. You will not get the expected returns. You need to provide them with content that gives them something extra. The content can be informative, educational or entertaining.

◆ Visual content (but not too much!)

Emails are more and more viewed on tablet and smartphone. To create the perfect emails, you have to think very carefully about its design. A good email contains relevant images that perfectly illustrate the text. Let’s face it, the vast majority of emails are not read in their entirety. Oftentimes, it’s the design that persuades the reader to click.

Be careful, too many images will have a negative impact on your deliverability rate. Concretely, an email with too many images will be considered as SPAM and will not even reach your target’s inbox. You must therefore be attentive to the image / text ratio of your emails.

Bonus Tips:

4 emails nonprofits and churches can send during COVID-19

10 tips to increase online giving with email marketing

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