How to Fundraise with Charity Email Marketing

Fundraising via email marketing is highly effective in helping charities to increase donations. According to research by the DMA, more people opened and clicked on charity emails throughout the pandemic than in the years before. The charity sector was also the best performing sector for click rates.

So while the pandemic was a tough time for charities, with donations falling and many charities being forced to scale back their services, email marketing continued to be an effective method of connecting with donors.

With 69% of charities regularly publishing an email newsletter, it’s important that your fundraising emails stand out against the rest. 

While you can use charity email marketing for all sorts of purposes, here we will focus on fundraising emails, that are solely intended to inspire email subscribers to make a donation. Read on to find out how to write an effective fundraising email.

Why use email marketing for fundraising?

In the 2020 Nonprofit Leadership Impact Study, 64% of charities said that budget restrictions prevented them from looking into new technology investments. Emails themselves are free to send. And for many charities with smaller mailing lists, email automation platforms like Mailchimp are free to use. 

Even when you do have to pay for larger mailing lists, email marketing is still much much more cost-effective. According to Campaign Monitor, email marketing has an average 4400% return on investment. That’s £44 raised for every £1 invested.

Charity email marketing is also more personal than, for example, blog posts or social media. It gives you the opportunity to have more direct conversations with potential donors, where their attention won’t be drawn away by a flood of posts on their news feed.

When trying to get across the importance of your mission and why you need donations, being personal is absolutely key. Email is excellent for nurturing relationships, so is very well suited to fundraising.

How to write a great fundraising email

What works best for your charity will be down to your audience and what you’re trying to achieve. However, using these steps as an outline for your charity’s email marketing campaign will put you on the right track for fundraising success.

Segment your email list

You can use email automation platforms like Mailchimp to segment your donors into more specific groups. Some examples of ways you could segment your audience are:

  • Age
  • Gift size
  • Last donation date
  • Donation frequency
  • Location

For example, if the last time someone donated was as a birthday fundraiser, you could prompt them to set up another fundraiser a week ahead of their birthday. 

For one of our charity clients, we sent out an email urging subscribers to create a birthday fundraiser through Facebook Giving with fees waived. As a result, Facebook fundraisers grew 12% in the first year, and a further 29% the following year. This is just one example of how personalised fundraising emails can be super effective.

Depending on your cause, you could create targeted case study emails matching a group’s demographic, evoking empathy. This would work best if your charity supports beneficiaries of all ages. Otherwise, you could think about what would connect different donors to your average beneficiary. For example, if you support young people, tailor your email message differently depending on whether you are sending it to parents, grandparents, or other young people.

Master the art of storytelling

Storytelling is a compelling fundraising tactic across all platforms, with 64% of charities using storytelling in their donor engagement strategies. Email fundraising is really useful for this because as mentioned above, you can target stories at specific segments of your audience.

When telling a story through charity email marketing, give your story a main character. It’s easier for a donor to identify with another person than with a whole group of people. 

Within your story, show exactly how donations have made an impact. Demonstrate how you use donations, and what the outcome is. Donors want to know that their money will actually have an impact, as this makes donating much more emotionally rewarding.

Keep your email focused

Focus your email around a specific program, event, initiative, or story. Otherwise, your donors may become overwhelmed with information and be put off from engaging with your email content. 

When planning an email, consider your core goal of engaging a specific donor segment, by asking yourself:

  • Who am I targeting?
  • How am I going to get them to donate?
  • What action do I want them to take?

Keep your email message short, snappy, and to the point. You can always use your email to redirect to more detailed information on a blog post.

Tell your donor how they can help

This may sound obvious, but telling your donor what you want them to do can quickly get lost in the stress of planning email segmentation, stories, and designing the email. A call-to-action is the most important part of a fundraising email. Without it, your donors might engage with your story, but won’t know how they can help you out.

You need to make donating as easy and direct as possible. Even in business marketing, a customer may not buy a product they really want if the buying process is difficult or complicated. Here, you’re asking for money for nothing in return. So, it’s even more important that the process is as simple as possible.

Include direct links to donation forms or event pages, and make sure these jump out in your email design. You can also include links within your visual content and attention-grabbing call-to-action buttons to increase your click-through rate. When using buttons, make your instructions loud and clear. Think “Click Here to Donate” rather than simply “Click Here” or “Donate”.

If you want support with your charity’s email fundraising, drop us a line via our contact form here.