June 13, 2022

8 fundraising email best practices to boost opens and clicks

8 fundraising email best practices to boost opens and clicks

As a nonprofit, you’ve to be constantly scouting for donors convincing them of your cause. A decrease in fundraising affects the cause you are associated with directly impacting the lives of people who are dependent on you for help.

The best way to start a fundraising campaign to raise money is to start a donation page on an online fundraising platform. You can share the page link on your social media channels and also in emails.

Fundraising emails have proven to be successful with 26% of the online donors inspired to give after reading it. Social media comes next at 25% followed by websites at 17%. So, email is cost-effective as well as the best strategy to raise money online.

A fundraising email is a specifically written message to solicit donations from potential and existing donors. But rather than sending general emails to all, you have to personalize them to increase the chances of click-through rates. In 2020, charities raised $78 for every 1,000 fundraising emails. Emails may help you create a meaningful relationship with your donors by sharing impact stories, inviting increased engagement, and collecting frequent gifts, especially given how affordable they are to send.

Let’s now know the key details to be included in a fundraising email.

Subject line: The first opportunity to hook your donors, the fundraising email subject line should be short reflecting what’s inside the email. Start it with the donor’s name to give it a personal touch.

Greeting: Customize the fundraising email with the recipient’s name in the greeting line say like Hi Rebeca or Hello John.

Appeal: The appeal starts with the story of the cause. Supplement the story with compelling images and videos. Use emotional language, personal testimonials, and more to establish a connection and encourage them to donate.

CTAs: After the story, make a brief appeal to donate. Then include a CTA. You can write about the amount that will help the cause such as ‘Donate $30 to fund the doctor appointment’, ‘Donate $100 for the medicines’, or ‘Donate $1000 for the surgery costs’.

Other details: Here, you can include details about the volunteering activity or urge the donors to give a monthly gift to your charity.

Contact details: Include the contact number, social media links, and email address, for donors to contact you for queries.    

Before you start emailing your prospective donors, check out these eight fundraising email best practices to get the highest click-through rates.

 1. Segmented recipient list

Maybe there are thousands of potential or existing donors who have opted-in to receive your emails. But don’t compare them with the same yardstick. Each subscriber has different needs. So don’t make the mistake of assuming a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. The best way forward in fundraising email is to segment the email list based on-

  • Giving status (lapsed donors, existing donors, potential donors, etc.)
  • Giving frequency (once or recurring)
  • Role in the charity (volunteers, staff, board members, donors)
  • Demographic (gender, location, age, etc.)
  • Program interests

Some surveys have reported an increase in revenue as much as above 700% in segmented email campaigns. When you send targeted emails depending on these parameters, you get a better response than sending general emails.

 2. Sending time

You might have heard of the best times to post on social media. Similarly, there are some days when the email opening rate is high and those are-

  • Mondays
  • Wednesdays and Thursdays between 7 to 11 a.m.

A survey has reported a 20% increase in open rates when you send emails on a Monday. But, it doesn’t mean that the same works even for you. You have to try sending emails to recipients at different times using the A/B testing and see which day and time of the week or which months give you the best results.

Also, it is a known fact that the month of December just before the vacation gets the highest donations. Plan to send emails at least 1 or 2 months in advance in October or November requesting donors to give money.

 3. Fundraising email subject lines

Do you know almost 50% of the recipients decide to open the email based on the subject line? Here, it goes. Now, you know the power of crafting a good fundraising email subject line. If your audience doesn’t like the subject line, they are simply not going to open it.

Here are some tips for writing a good fundraising email subject line-

  • Start it with their first name. It is the best way of attracting attention and personalizing the experience.
  • Don’t keep the subject line too long. Keep it short, under 20 characters.
  • Ask a question. The audience will take a pause to think on the subject and it increases the likelihood of them opening the email.
  • Express urgency by including words such as “now”, “important”, “don’t skip”, and “urgent”.    
  • Your subject line should express what they can expect inside the email. Don’t write an unrelated fundraising email subject line to hook the recipients.

Work on the line. It requires time, creativity, and strategy. But, in the end, it’ll be worth it.

 4. Personalize the content

You segment the audience to personalize their experiences. It increases the click-through rate by 14%. You can opt for any bulk email marketing tool that allows you to select from varied templates and personalize the email’s greeting. Again use A/B testing to find out which type of personalization works best. When you greet your recipient in the email, you can consider options such as-

Hi John, Hello John, Hello John Grant, Dear John, Hey John, Hello Mr. Grant…

The type of variation you use depends on the tone of content inside your email. But make sure you use a personalized greeting as it helps you bond with the recipient at the start itself.

 5. Fundraising email content

The main aim of your fundraising email is to evoke the emotion of empathy for the donors to connect with the cause. You want the donors to respond to the email and click on the CTA. When you tell the story remember to include how fundraising will help the cause. Essentially, the essence of the story is to tell people how they can be a part of the cause and make the world a better place. Here are some ways in which you can get the reader invested in your story-

  • Use a character when telling the story. The readers can relate to it better.
  • Describe the problem of the character for the reader to feel empathy
  • Finally, end the story by adding words like “you can change their life” or “your donations can make their life better”.

And another crucial point, keep the content concise. A well-crafted story is decisive to obtain a higher response rate but you don’t stretch it too long. Complete the story in 2 paragraphs. Keep it attractive, engaging, simple, and to the point.

 6. Use images that tell the story

What’s an email without including compelling photos? When we say, use powerful images, we mean images that pull the readers’ emotions. Keep it natural without looking forced.

  • The character in the photo should be faced toward the reader for them to look into the eyes and feel the pain.
  • Avoid group photos or photos where the character is posing from a distance.
  • Keep the photo natural without any extra editing. Don’t lift images from the internet.
  • You can also plan a collage of 4-5 photos to tell the readers about various aspects of the cause.

Pictures show your commitment to the cause and your request for donation proves you are here to solve it. For sure, powerful images help your cause get good funds.

 7. Strong Call To Action

Any fundraising email is incomplete without a strong call to action because you want your readers to take the desired action. But don’t confuse them with multiple requests. Be clear on what you want your readers to do and the best practice is to limit the fundraising email to one CTA so that it remains the focus of attention. Use bright colors to make it pop out. Usually, a click on this CTA takes the reader to the donation page set up on the online fundraising platform.

 8. Contact information

It is a good practice to include your contact information in the fundraising email. Your contact details legitimize your charity and make it easy for readers to reach out with any queries. Here’s the contact information you need to include in the fundraising email-

  • Name of the charity with the logo
  • Person of contact
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Physical address

Lastly, give readers the option to opt out of emails. It shows you care for them and you don’t force them to get involved in your charity.

Here are some mistakes you have to avoid in your fundraising email-

  • Avoid sending general fundraising emails. Instead, segment the users based on their donations, frequency of donations, demographics, and other parameters.
  • Don’t flood the recipient’s inbox with emails every day. Getting emails frequently more than their anticipation may put them off and they may block you negating your chances of getting conversions.
  • Donors don’t like falling prey to deceptive fundraising email subject lines. Make sure your subject line matches the content inside the email.
  • Don’t make mistakes while personalizing emails for the donors. See that the recipient’s name matches before you put them in your fundraising email subject line.
  • Test emails before you send them in bulk. The best option is to divide your email campaigns and see which gives the best results.
  • Let the focus not be on donation always. Write the email content from a donor’s perspective. Establish trust before you request them to give.
  • Don’t forget to add a compelling CTA at the end. Instead of a direct “Donate Now” button always, you can make it “Learn How You Can Help” sometimes when there is no need to be specific.
  • Don’t forget to check the email content for logical and grammatical errors.
  • Don’t forget to add the “Unsubscribe” option inside the email. This will build trust. Also, ensure you add an “Opt-In” option. The donors will click on it if they want your email in their inbox and not in the spam folder.


There are many factors in a fundraising email that drive conversions. A simple change in the subject line or even sending emails at the correct time may help you boost open rates by 50%. You’ll have to test it continuously to see what clicks.

Before you start your email campaign, make sure you set up your donation page on GivingX, an online fundraising platform. You can then easily share the donation page link in emails and on social media channels. Ready to see how GivingX can help you in your fundraising efforts? Take a tour of our platform now.