The 4 Things Your Nonprofit Needs for a Kickass Email Fundraising Program (Updated August 2021)

October 12, 2020
5 minutes

If you haven’t tried email fundraising yet, let us be the first ones to tell you that email fundraising is something you seriously need to consider. If email fundraising seems intimidating, just know that it doesn’t have to be. With today's email integrations and automations, you can get your nonprofit up and running with a fully functional email program faster than you’d ever thought possible.

Email is a beyond-powerful fundraising and marketing channel. With an average ROI of 4200%, you can be confident that every dollar you spend on email marketing is a dollar well spent…and $42 likely to come back your way. At this point, you’re likely asking yourself “...but what does an email fundraising program for a nonprofit like ours need to include?”

Fear not—we’ve compiled this handy-dandy checklist of everything you need your email fundraising program to have before it’s ready for launch. If you’re planning on using email as a major part of your fundraising strategy, read on to make sure your email bases are covered.

Email List  ✅

Before you start planning a major email fundraising push, make sure you actually have people to receive your fabulous emails!

Your email list is the collection of email addresses you’ve gained over time. Typically, you’d keep this list ready and waiting in a donor CRM, like Funraise. Having an email list is important because, simply put, if you don’t have a list, you don’t have anyone to email.

If you haven’t started compiling an email list yet, no worries! First, put a newsletter signup form on your website in an easily visible location. Then, check out these tactics to set up and maintain a healthy nonprofit email marketing list.

Next, consider a lead magnet. A lead magnet is something downloadable from your website: a fact sheet, brochure, annual report, or shiny PDF that you can offer the public in exchange for their email address. Once they download the resource, you’ll have their email address and a friendly new subscriber to your emails!

Email Template  ✅

Once you’ve gained subscribers, the next item you can check off is an email template. Every email you send to your subscribers should be similar in design—and each email you send should definitely feature your nonprofit’s branding. Why, you ask?

Your email design should remain consistent for the same reason you don’t change your logo or motto every week. Consistent branding builds trust, and your audience's trust is critical to the long-term health of your nonprofit.

Conveniently for you, comprehensive email programs like Mailchimp and Constant Contact have templates ready for you to use. They make it easy for you to use your own logo and graphics in pre-designed, charmingly professional-looking templates, saving you time on email design. If you’re concerned about your lack of HTML knowledge, don’t be—not a single line of HTML needs to be written for you to customize a beautifully-designed email.

Oh yeah, they also integrate with Funraise, helping you save time and build consistency—a double win!

Automations  ✅

You’ve designed your emails and compiled a list of lucky recipients. The next step in starting your email fundraising program is putting your email automations into place. That’s right, you can send targeted emails based off fundraising and donation activity automatically instead of digging through your donor data manually to decide who gets which email. We can. not. overemphasize how much time this will save, not to mention brain cells.

Here are just three of the automations you should consider welcoming into your email fundraising program:

Abandoned Cart Automation

Imagine a donor starting to make a sizable donation via your website, putting all of their contact information in, and then getting pulled away by one of life’s literal surprises. We’re sure you know that happens all the time, but you can benefit from using an abandoned cart automation. When someone gets close to donating but doesn’t complete the form, an abandoned cart automation can email them a friendly reminder to finish up what they set out to do. That’s cha-ching for your and your nonprofit!

Account Expiration Alerts

If a donor has a credit card they’ve saved to their account with you that’s about to expire, email them a little nudge to remind them to update their credit card details ASAP. We’re sure they wouldn’t want their monthly donation to lapse!

Yearly Donation Summary

This one’s super helpful! Make it easy for your donors to gather their tax information by automatically sending tax donation summaries over email. Or even better, send out one email to remind donors they can use Funraise's Donor Portal app to access their donation information any time of the year.

Long-Term Strategy  ✅

Once you have the basics in place, start thinking about your long-term email fundraising strategy. Do you have specific goals in place? Do you have someone to handle your email copy? Will you send out a bi-weekly newsletter or perhaps only send out emails for special events?

Think about how you want people to think about your nonprofit in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years. What impact are you expecting to have by then? Consider the impact that email can have in achieving those goals. These are the questions you should start thinking about. Your nonprofit’s bottom line can only improve from having a solid email fundraising plan in place.

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