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3 Tips For Improving Email Fundraising and Donor Communication

3 Tips For Improving Email Fundraising and Donor Communication

Fundraising emails can be tricky to navigate, and we’re here to help you steer donors toward action. With inundated inboxes, how can nonprofits cut through the noise and raise funds? Every appeal is different, but effective fundraising emails generally include the same key elements. 

In this article, we’ve rounded up our top three tips to improve your email fundraising and donor communication.

Top 3 Tips To Improve Email Fundraising Results

1. Segment your audiences

Segmenting your email subscribers into more specific categories of supporters is one of the most reliable ways to improve your fundraising emails. You can segment emails based on several different categories. The most common is financial contribution - Not Donated Yet, Last Year But Unfortunately Not This, Monthly Donor, Small Donor, Mid-Sized Donor, Major Donor, Board Member, and so on. Other traditional segments include Volunteers, Alumni, and Organizational Partners. 

One of the most overlooked strategies for segmentation is donor personas. This is where you base segments off profiles you’ve created of your ideal supporter archetypes. Persona segments include a mixture of demographic, psychographic, and behavioral data, which creates the fullest possible picture for a segment to be successful.

2. Share relevant messages to segments

Now that you’ve narrowed down your email subscribers into basic segments, it’s time to think about relevant messages. Ask yourself:

  • What topics will this segment most value? 

  • What stories will this segment find most compelling? 

  • Why does this segment support our mission? 

  • What propels this segment toward action? 

  • What information can you share with this segment that will build trust?

Answering these questions will guide you toward the type of content that will be most successful with each segment. Don’t forget to take note of your email analytics. Let the data speak for your segments! Which emails have the highest and lowest open rates and click-through rates? What patterns do you see correlating between the highest and lowest emails? Continually monitor, modify, and optimize your messages (and subject lines!) based on the results and feedback.

3. Simplify and Personalize design and copy

Never forget that like any successful fund development endeavor, email fundraising works best with a human-to-human connection. It’s all about relationships! Here are some easy ways to simplify and personalize your emails:

  • Stop saying “Dear Friend,” and start using first name metatags (“Sarah,”).

  • Quit sending blanket emails and begin A/B testing to see which messages work best.

  • Prevent over-complicated fundraising emails with long copies and lots of graphics and experiment with text-only messages that look more like regular emails.

  • Freeze email lists of 50 or less and send hyper-personalized text-only emails to grab a supporter’s attention.

  • Leave overly formal third-person language at the door and try second-person to warm up a message (You should see lots of “yous” now!).

  • Don’t be vague (“Support us today”) and get to the point (“Donate Now”).

Pro tip: Read the email aloud before hitting send. If it doesn’t right coming out of your mouth, and you wouldn’t say those things in a face-to-face (or Zoom meeting), it’s time to hit the edit button. Always ask yourself - how could I simplify this message and make it sound more conversational? As a rule of thumb, shorter more straightforward fundraising emails are most effective.

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