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11 Best Email Fundraising Practices for Nonprofits To Generate High Response Rates

The outbreak of the Coronavirus has brought about a major change to the functioning of the nonprofit industry. Charity events are no longer feasible, ...

The outbreak of the Coronavirus has brought about a major change to the functioning of the nonprofit industry. Charity events are no longer feasible, most events are being shifted online and video conferencing solutions are being largely adopted. When it comes to fundraising for nonprofits, communication continues to play a vital role; getting the word out is important. 

As your nonprofit takes care of matters internally, this is also the time to really optimize your email marketing. You might want to address the current situation, ask about the well-being of your donors, or let them know how much you appreciate their help. A lot of your audience may be going through difficult times themselves, therefore it is important that you choose your words carefully. Your emails might not be an “ask” every time, but it should all come down to gathering funds for your cause. In this article, let’s explore 11 best email fundraising practices that you can add to your efforts.

Timing it right

Timing is essential when it comes to sending your emails and getting it right will definitely require some work on your part. There are numerous tools and software to let you know of the days and hours during which you get the maximum open and click-through rates. An in-depth research and a thorough understanding of the entire process will help you sail through it and get more responses. Fundraising for nonprofits truly requires reaching out to the right people at the right time. Timing it right also includes the fact that you send the right message at the right time; for example, if a Covid-19 update comes up that could impact a section of your audience, reach out to them soon, address the news and express your concern. 

Thankful attitude

When you are thankful and happy, you spread positive vibes and eventually attract more people and donors. A message of thanks is thus vital. The recipients of your emails could be recent donors or even older ones, but thank them nevertheless. Thank them for being so generous to your nonprofit in the past and helping in carrying the mission forward. The truth is, donors open up even more when they feel appreciated.

Relevant updates

This is majorly about event updates. Like I mentioned in the introduction,  a lot of events have been moved online. In doing so, there arises a need for proper communication and updates. Talk about your online event and include updates in your email. 

  • Tell your audience about your online event and its details
  • Provide information on how they should attend the event and give them links
  • Send reminder emails

Reasserting your mission

Your “why” holds the biggest place in your organization; you started because of it and donors supported you because of it. There is no getting away from your reason to do what you are doing. Therefore, remind your audience about your mission and how, with their help, you have been able to get this far. Focus on the emotional connect and what you ask out of your supporters should ladder back to your mission. Let your supporters know of the role they play in fundraising for your nonprofit.

Messages of comfort

These are hard times and everybody needs some inspiration in one way or the other. You can focus on the following as you draft your message: 

  • Problems are real but hope and help are real too
  • Your nonprofit is with its supporters
  • Things will get better in time
  • Share inspirational quotes

Use of images

Pictures and images make your communication material more attractive and instantly catch the eye. Choose images that match the content of your email but remember to keep the number of images to 2 or 3 per email. Provide some white spacing so that the email looks and remains clean and not overdone. Tap on the right customer emotion and leverage that to your benefit; understand which visuals will have the most impact. Here’s how you can do this. 

Audience segmentation

Donors can be of different kinds, in terms of giving patterns or even age groups and interests. It is very important to segment your emails so that the right messages get to the relevant section of your audience. There are donor management softwares that provide email templates for different segments of recipients, for different occasions. Platforms such as GiveCentral and Email Uplers help with email campaign management. There is also an option to customize and personalize as per requirement. 

Owning your subject line

The subject line really defines the series of events that will follow. It has been known that 35% of email recipients decide whether they should open an email or not based on the subject line. This particular line has to be well thought of and strategized. 

  • Ask questions that will make your audience pause and think
  • Always keep it short
  • Convey urgency with words like “now” and “hurry”


Make your greeting personal and address your recipient by name. Personalized emails generate 6 times higher transaction rates. Numerous emailing tools allow personalization, hence it is an easy process. However, it is ideal to make sure that everything is perfect by running an A/B testing. This is a process that checks the manner in which emails are being delivered from sender A to recipient B. Then there is hyper-personalization that is mostly referred to as the future of marketing and well, it has arrived. In this process, artificial intelligence and real time data are leveraged in order to deliver more relevant content and service information to the audience. This will help you draw the line between average fundraising and extra mile fundraising. 

Remembering the Donate button

Your eventual goal is to get your supporters to continue donating to your nonprofit. So it is very important to include a Donate button or rather, a Call To Action button that will lead to a simple and easy donation page or process. Keep your content short and sweet and make your CTA button stand out. Use brighter colors and keep the font size bigger than the rest. 

Mobile optimization

Most of the emails you send are going to be read on mobile devices, hence it is necessary to optimize your emails for the same. Fundraising for nonprofits through email marketing includes technical adjustments which your organization should be ready to make. 

  • Enlarge the size of your Donate button or any other link 
  • Opt for a single column layout
  • Resize your images to suit mobile devices

Final thoughts

When your nonprofit sends out emails, your main goal is to get your audience to open the email and convert them into donors. Therefore, do not send lengthy emails, keep it short and precise. You can include questions and surveys once in a while too, add variety to the content of your email. 

Email fundraising can be made impactful by knowing your audience, their likes, and dislikes. Your nonprofit can then send messages that they would like to open and read. Your communication on emails and other platforms such as social media should align with your mission and spread the same message. GiveCentral has created a Social Communications Toolkit to help nonprofits navigate better and thrive through the situation. Paying attention to all aspects of communication is an ideal way to maintain your visibility and increase your engagement. 

If you want to read more about the impact of the situation on the email marketing industry, have a look at this insightful article. Plan your outreach in such a way that your supporters look forward to staying in touch with your organization.

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Vish Vass

Vish Vass is the Senior Vice President and Managing Director at GiveCentral. By modernizing nonprofit fundraising with the use of technology, Vish believes that we can bring about the necessary growth and help nonprofits fulfill their mission.



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