Whew, it’s hard to cut through the clutter. (Take it from someone in marketing!) You get it, because you’re trying to write fundraising emails that highlight your mission and get engagement. And it’s a crowded field.
Even if you have the greatest story in the world, your donors have heard it. And hearing it again isn’t going to inspire them to reach deeper into their wallets.
So what does work? Sometimes it’s having the right words, and sometimes it’s having the right ideas. In this article, we’ll offer four types of emails you can send. These ideas alone might get your wheels spinning. And if you want some examples of how these emails might look, we’ll offer some templates you can adopt and customize for your own nonprofit.
And, it goes without saying that personalizing these emails will greatly increase your chances of success. So use your nonprofit CRM to collect details on your donors, and add in notes that will make them feel as though you’re talking right to them.
1. The General Request
File this under your everyday, run-of-the-mill plea for support. The general request should be used when there’s not a specific reason you’re raising money. It should talk about what you do and why support is important and should acknowledge previous gifts. You can also throw in a plug for monthly giving.
Here are some tips:
- Start with a heartwarming impact story.
- Tie that person’s support (or the reason you’re asking for support from a prospective donor) to that impact. If you can specifically reference a past gift, do so.
- Make a clear request.
- Suggest a lower amount of money more often.
- If you have any gift to offer, mention it. (Hint: it doesn’t have to be something material. Access to a Zoom call with your Executive Director, tours of your facilities, lunches or receptions, etc. all work.)
- Offer an easy path to donating.
It might look like this:
As I walked around our food pantry today, I watched a mom with three young kids filling her cart with healthy food. I saw an older gentleman’s eyes light up when he saw his favorite yogurt on our shelves. And I felt gratitude radiating from everyone who walked through the door.
The only reason we can fill those shelves is because of donors like you. Your recent gift of $25 went straight to buying food for that pantry, and that food went right to nourishing hungry people in our community.
Can these people count on you to keep the shelves stocked? A gift of just ten dollars more – $35 – can feed five more people.
If you’d be able to make it a monthly donation of $20, your impact will be multiplied. And monthly donors get to show their pride with a personalized Montgomery County Food Pantry tote bag! Just visit our donation page. We are so thankful for any amount.
Steven, thanks for your previous support, and thank you in advance for any help you can offer.
2. The End-of-Year Request
If it’s a summer month, you’re a pretty smart cookie if you’re already thinking about your year-end giving. If you want a popular resource that will help you plan your late summer and fall, check out this comprehensive Guide to Year-End Giving. It’s totally free, not salesy, and offers tips and templates that can make your job easier.
While the same general advice applies to year-end emails, there’s a lot you can do to galvanize existing donors and even find some new supporters. Year-end is the time most folks focus on charitable giving for tax reasons, and there’s no reason your nonprofit can’t benefit from their deductions!
- Segmenting your audience and changing the message for each group.
- Injecting a sense of excitement.
- Directly stating your goal.
- And then using social media or a text campaign to update donors on that goal.
- If you’re planning an event, use this email to describe it and invite people to register.
Here’s an example of a fundraising email template:
We’ve waited all year for this! As the year winds down and the holidays get closer, we set our biggest fundraising goal of the year. This time, we want to raise $50,000 before January 1!
Can you imagine the hungry bellies we can fill with that kind of money? Not only will we be able to stock the food pantry completely if we reach our goal, but we will also be able to purchase a used van that we can load up with food and take into the community. In this way, we can go to the folks that can’t come to us.
You’ve been so generous in our past campaigns, and I was hoping I could count on your support again. We’re more than halfway to our goal, so every penny helps push us closer! If you can make another $25 donation or even a $30 donation, it would quite literally put food on a table!
Check out our year-end donation page if you can help. If you sign up for text updates, we will let you know if we reach our goal, keep you in the know for events and promotions, and send you pictures of the good your support brings.
Thanks for your kindness, Steven!
3. The Urgent Request
The urgent request can be used for anything, well, urgent. This can be a year-end campaign when you’re really really really close to hitting your goal. It can be during a campaign that has a definite end date. Sometimes the urgent request will be used if you’re helping during disasters. For example, our food bank clients really pressed on the gas when the pandemic hit.
What are the strong elements of an urgent request?
- There’s an end date – it’s time-bound.
- There’s a defined goal, and you can measure your progress.
- It works best with donors who have a connection to your nonprofit – this isn’t as effective for cold outreach.
- Use this template sparingly. Remember the little boy who cried wolf! Your urgent requests won’t pack a punch if they’re your main form of outreach.
Let’s take a look at an urgent request:
Have you heard about the catastrophic flooding in our area? It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen, and countless families have lost everything they own.
The Food Pantry of Montgomery County is working tirelessly to feed both displaced families and the first responders helping them. But the food is flying off the shelves at record speed, and we are desperate to replenish our supplies.
Can you please spare $50? It would feed a family of four for an entire day. It’s not often we plead for immediate gifts, but the need is rising faster than we can keep up with it.
Just head to our special disaster donation page and click to send your support. We will gratefully take anything you can spare to help those affected by this tragedy.
4. The Thank-You Request
It might sound like the worst time to ask for support would be right after someone has given support, it’s actually the perfect time! They know who you are and what you care about. They have demonstrated a commitment to your organization and your cause. They’re interested in your nonprofit.
Here are a few ideas when you’re crafting a thank-you request:
- Start by acknowledging what they’ve done. Did they attend an event, volunteer, or donate time, goods, or dollars?
- Offer additional ways they can get involved.
- Show them the result of support from donors.
- Go to the back closet and see if you have any branded items you can offer.
- If you don’t, put some thought into what they will get out of supporting you.
Here’s an example:
Wow! Thank you so much for your generous gift of $250 during our year-end campaign! I’m delighted to announce that thanks to gifts like that, we were able to reach our fundraising goal. Not only are we in the process of restocking every shelf in the food pantry, but we’ve also been able to buy the van and are fitting it to hold up to 500 grab-and-go meals. We can send it out three times a day, which means almost 1,500 additional people a day will be fed.
Your support got us there.
Would you like to see your dollars in action? We are offering top donors the opportunity to accompany the food pantry truck into the community. You can sign up for a three-hour shift and load the truck, then help our staff distribute the food.
We plan to feature our volunteers in profiles on our website and social media, and you can feel free to repost that profile on LinkedIn or anywhere you’d like.
There are lots of dates, so if you’re interested, sign up for a slot! On our donation page, scroll to “Food Pantry Truck Signup” and we will email you all the information you need.
Thanks again for being so instrumental in eradicating hunger in our community.
Fundraising Emails for Any Nonprofit
I know, you’re not a food pantry. But these ideas and words can translate into your specific fundraising situation. Regardless of what email you’re sending, remember you’re part of a crowded inbox. How can you stand out?
Start with a catchy subject line, and then ensure the body of the email isn’t too wordy. Have a clear purpose and message, and offer a supremely easy way to respond – point them directly to where they need to go to complete the call to action.
And, of course, because we are in the nonprofit CRM business, we are obligated to advise you to use technology. Segment your audiences, automate your emails, and above all else, make sure your email deliverability rates are high.
Email works. If your results aren’t what you want them to be, give us a call and we can offer some road-tested wisdom to help you get the fundraising results you need.