Email Marketing Strategies for Fundraising

Educate and Nurture Your Fundraising Audience

Finding donors for your charity means speaking to them personally, over time, to build trust with convincing arguments. Just think about the sheer volume of ads, businesses and charities yearning to be heard — it’s a lot of competition. If you want to stand out, you’ll have to launch emotional hooks that’ll make you more memorable while telling people exactly why they should donate and how they can do so. That means giving quick, regular updates on the cause itself as well as providing something people can enjoy or engage with every week. 

Email marketing is your channel of choice for getting to the crux of an issue and tying it back to your activities. Essentially, you’re sending short messages (such as a newsletter, reminder or follow-up) on a schedule. You can also tweak emails to each recipient, directing them to links, downloads, donor pages or more content using any information you have on what they like to see. Little by little, they’re warmed up for donation. 

But getting it right can be tough. You don’t want to overwhelm people. Neither should you waste time sending the wrong content to those who aren’t interested or haven’t consented to reading your material. 

So, get a grasp on email marketing with our introduction below. We’ll cover the basics, from acquiring a useful email address list to writing effective messages, pushing them out and measuring their impact. 

Building Your Email List

A quality email campaign must have contacts that want to hear from you. Otherwise, there’s a high chance you’ll get marked as spam or become blocked by an Email Service Provider (ESP), which tracks clicks, bounces and open rates to determine which emails are legitimately useful. This creates a “sender reputation”. Once your reputation drops, like a credit score, it can be difficult to bring it back up. It’s also worth considering GDPR penalties, for instance, which demand unambiguous consent for any first-party data you receive and store. 

Therefore, you need to make sure that people have opted into your marketing as well as checking that the addresses they’ve provided are active i.e. they haven’t expired or been generated by bots. 

Try these tactics for email list generation: 

  • Add a “subscribe” button on your website next to relevant content such as blogs, interviews, videos and charity reports. It’s the critical opt-in decision that tells you they want to learn more. 
  • Capture email addresses with gated content, such as larger downloads that offer more value to the reader. If they’re searching for this subject matter, they’re keen to explore your cause in detail. Ask for their email in exchange for a free, in-depth content asset.
  • Utilise deliverability tools like Warmup Inbox, Clearout or NeverBounce to verify contacts and weed out extinct or duplicate addresses. 
  • Add an “unsubscribe” button too in every email. If someone wants to opt out, they should be able to, and it saves you from lower click-through rates and increased spam labels. 

Crafting Great Email Content

Once you have a reliable list of recipients, it’s time to experiment with messages and nurturing opportunities. To do this effectively, you should segment your contacts. In other words, you need a good idea of what different people — split by age, interests, earnings, location and other variables — want to read for the highest chance of making a donation (conversion). 

What do you know about them? Can you see what demographics tend to interact the most on your website, social feeds and during in-person events? Even better, can you split test messages, supporting content and email templates to check what’s landing the hardest? Donor profiles are an excellent bedrock for understanding what works and why. We’ll examine testing in more detail soon, but for now, get those profiles into shape. 

The Art of the Subject Line

When writing those emails, you should focus on clarity and concision. No one wants to read a 600-word message when it’s stacked against others in an inbox. Aim to get your point across within 250-300 words, and pay attention to your subject lines: they’re absolutely key to making people click and read in the first place! 

What makes a decent subject line? For starters, tap into any of these emotions: 

  1. Intrigue (you’re about to answer a question or reveal something)
  2. Fear (there’s a sense that the reader will miss out if they don’t read this) 
  3. Urgency (a development, such as a crowdfunder deadline (link to crowdfunding guide) or event invite is about to occur)

You can pepper subject lines with emojis, but again, exercise restraint. One is fine; any more may appear spammy. Use plenty of verbs and active language — “Learn XXX,” “Discover why XXX,” “Get ready for XXX” etc. — to stir engagement. 

Define Your Call to Action (CTA) 

Likewise, a CTA should drill the email down to one action you want your audience to take. So, further down the nurturing funnel, that’s bound to be something like “Click HERE to donate,” but you should avoid coming in with the donor request too early. It’ll scare people off, especially if they haven’t seen, heard or read enough of your marketing materials to understand why your cause is special and timely. 

Earlier in the nurturing cycle, ask them to watch a video, check out a case study, register for an event or tune into a live web broadcast — whatever you’re doing to educate and inspire potential donors. Alternatively, you might suggest leaving feedback or speaking to someone from your team.

Reinforce the CTA throughout but make pains to include it as a button at the bottom of your emails. Play with colour, size and font until you see engagement rise. 

Refine Your Email Body Copy

What about the rest of the email? Bear these best practices in mind: 

  • Break paragraphs into three or four lines max for digestible reading. 
  • Keep your intro to 50-80 words, introducing the topic and getting straight to it. 
  • Personalise emails with the recipient’s first name, which they should provide in the lead-capture forms you’re using. 
  • Draw sentiments back to the benefits of raising money, rather than just the background to the issue and how much you’re hoping to receive. Your contacts may want to see cause and effect for a convincing message. 

Planning Your Email Marketing Calendar

In email marketing, you may have come across the term “cadence” to describe the frequency of your outbound efforts. The thing is, cadence isn’t a fixed value. It can rise or fall depending on the person you’re emailing — starting slow, building steam and calming down once they’ve converted, before you pick old donors back up again for another campaign. 

For maximum success, your marketing calendar should be backed by precise knowledge of when you should be emailing various contacts. This relies on two things: relevance and practicality. As we’ve said, you have to ensure the content speaks to their position in the conversion funnel, but also, you shouldn’t commit to sending too many emails for the sake of it or to the point where they’re simply too much work. 

A calendar is a visual tool that shows you what’s been drafted, approved, scheduled and sent on a regular basis. Software can help. You can always use a spreadsheet instead, but it’s harder to maintain. Platforms such as Mailchimp and MailerLite offer smarter workflows that anyone can access on a shared network. 

While every platform has its own features and user interfaces, you’ll want to score leads based on their engagement so far. Then, when they reach a threshold, you can trigger one-off emails to push them towards donating or providing something exclusive for people who aren’t showing much interest. 

Equally, keep the cadence of your regular newsletter flowing. So, for example, you might decide to send a charity update on the third Thursday of the month. For hot prospects, you can craft and set up a more urgent conversion email. Colder prospects, on the other hand, could receive an invitation to learn about the cause with a downloadable brochure, along with a prize for signing up. Eventually you can retarget members of your audience who both have and haven’t donated several months or a year later, keeping records of what they’ve interacted with, drafting content with a few weeks’ notice to prepare for edits or additional designs. 

Measuring Email Marketing Success

Lastly, we want to touch on metrics: the black-and-white measurements for how successful your email marketing is becoming. 

A handful of main metrics will swirl around your campaigns, shedding insight into audience tastes, your writing and visual elements, and if you’re sending emails at the perfect time. We’ve mentioned some of them already. Here’s a closer look:  

  • Open Rates: This is the number of recipients who open your email. A low open rate suggests your subject lines aren’t hitting home or you’re heading to the spam folder. 
  • Click-Through-Rates (CTR): When you have a healthy CTR, potential donors are clicking through the content or pages you’re linking out to. This implies your CTAs and nurturing assets are effective. 
  • Conversion Rates: The ultimate conversion is a donation. However, someone might successfully register for a webinar, create an online account or share your content on social media. Whatever you classify as a conversion while the prospect warms up is worth calculating. 
  • Unsubscribe Rates: These are self-explanatory. Some emails might be causing a spike in unsubscriptions. If so, investigate and perform split tests to solve the problem. 

Hit Conversions Easier with Donor Partnerships

You’re almost ready to get up and running with email marketing — one of the most cost-efficient outbound strategies in your marketing arsenal. 

Yet, to aid conversion, you should explore easyfundraising too! We’re connected to 190,000+ charities in the UK and abroad for donations with a difference. Your recipients can shop with over 7,500 retail brands that will pledge a percentage of their sales to a good cause, like your organisation. Whenever someone makes a purchase, their chosen charity receives some cash, and the consumer doesn’t pay any more themselves. 

This spurs your email contacts into action. Whether you want to rely on easyfundraising alone or add us into the rest of your marketing plan, get in touch with us to discover how we can help. And good luck for your email ambitions! Every line counts for the causes you love.