How to Use Email Marketing to Solicit Donations

donation-jar-yogaEmail newsletters have been used to raise thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars in a single targeted campaign. A well formatted, thoughtfully composed email, guided by analytics gleaned from email marketing services, will help raise the funds you need.

To get started, it’s important that a donation request email be convenient for the reader. Be sure it’s:

  • Scannable. Readers want to look for the important bits of information in short chunks of text (about 200 words). Use your template to make headlines clear and use CSS boxes to set apart text and images.
  • Consider using a landing page for the full information, or create a profile on Kickstarter.
  • Overall, email should be short. 500 words at the most. Use landing pages for more information.
  • Use a donation button, a graphical box that takes people directly to the page where they make a donation payment. Make it easy for people to help with a single-click donating experience. People expect a reputable business to have a working e-tool that will collect their money with no hassles. Elaborate instructions raise suspicions.

How to Ask Strangers For Money

Be up front and transparent in your prose. Your introductory paragraph should 1) explain the problem, 2) what needs to happen to fix it, and 3) how the reader can help. You can say this more than once in the email.

Be optimistic. Assume your readers want to help; you’re informing them how they can do what they already want to do.

How Much to Ask For

There is no hard guideline on how much is too high or too low a donation request in an email campaign; your analytics will guide you. Review your recipients’ length of subscription and click-through rates, past donations, average donation overall, how much you need, and how many people on your list will donate.

You should be clear about how much you need, what it’s for, and give it a deadline — people are more likely to donate if there’s a goal and a time limit, as this creates a sense of urgency.

Subject Headings – Don’t Kill Your Chances at the Handshake

Do not use the words “donation,” “help,” or other money-asking or help-requesting words in the subject header. These words ping literal spam traps and the reader’s own spam radar. Email users have come to expect that any email asking for money is a Nigerian prince scam (they’re often correct).

Instead, use the subject to inform the reader about your cause in a way that personally interests them. Write a personal subject line based on topics that have interested your readers in the past.

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