Raise More Money
Through Email Appeals

Ann Fitzgerald President AC Fitzgerald author

Ann C. Fitzgerald, President

Even as other giving has remained flat, online giving continues to grow. The Blackbaud Index of Online Giving reports online giving increased by 3.2 percent for the three months ending December, 2010, as compared to the same period in 2009. This was preceded by double-digit growth throughout the earlier part of 2010.

Are you doing everything you can to maximize online gifts?

Here are some techniques that will help improve your email solicitations:

  • Get educated about online giving. The online medium is different from direct mail and other forms of solicitation. Network for Good has a number of valuable resources on its website, www.fundraising123.org,  to educate you about the dos and dont’s of online fundraising.
  • Keep email subject lines short but compelling. They should not exceed 50 characters, but they must grab readers’ attention.
  • Personalize. Upgrade your email system so you can personalize emails to your recipients.
  • Allow people to respond. Be sure to use a From address that actually accepts emails. And if anyone responds to your email with a comment or question, be sure to acknowledge it.
  • Make it easy to donate. Don’t forget about the back-end. Once you ask for money, make it easy for the donor to make a donation quickly and efficiently. This means directing readers to a landing page they can easily navigate. Also consider how you will acknowledge the contribution. A well-written automatic email is nice, but a follow-up thank-you letter in the mail is even better.
  • Be consistent. Integrate an email strategy into your other donor communication plans. Send emails on a regular basis.
  • Test. Send test messages to staff or friends before you distribute them to your entire list.
  • Monitor results. Determine whether people open your emails more in the morning or the evening, and send them when they will be opened most quickly. Study which emails get opened more frequently and which result in more gifts, and attempt to repeat the successful themes.
  • Don’t solicit every time. Just as with your print communications, don’t ask for money directly in every email. Remember, you’re building a relationship. Sometimes, you just want to provide information of interest. Even then, it’s OK to include a link to your donation page.
  • Learn from others. Consider the emails you receive and open regularly. What makes you take the time to read them? It’s probably a number of factors, including that you think you are personally connected to the organization and the email is relevant and offers something of value.

Email is a different medium, but one thing remains the same: it’s still about building loyalty and relationships. At a time when every donation is precious, consider how you can improve the online experience for your donors so you can maximize giving.

Ann C. Fitzgerald is Founder and President of AC Fitzgerald, using her decades of experience in fundraising, management, leadership, and sales to help nonprofits build their capacity and achieve success. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, and advisor.

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