Email donation conversions are important for nonprofits. There’s immediacy in email and you can personalize it in ways that’s much tougher to do on social media. M&R’ 2016 Benchmark Study is fascinating with regard to what it reveals about email in the nonprofit sector.

  • Open, click-through and response rates were all down in 2015 for messages.
  • Email fundraising page completion rates rose by 3 percent.
  • Unsubscribe rates dropped.
  • Email revenue grew by 25 percent.
  • Email fundraising accounted for 29 percent of all online revenue.
  • Nonprofits raised $44 for every 1,000 email fundraising messages.
  • Nonprofits sent out more fundraising messages.

Successful nonprofits are sending out more emails for fundraising. If you’ve decided this is a strategy that you’d like to do, which I would advocate, then here are some tips to help you convert:

  1. Subject line: Keep your subject line between 61 and 70 characters long. These are the ones that tend to be opened. To help avoid spam filters, make sure that the subject line is relevant to the content. Try to keep from using words like “help, good and free.”
  1. Personalize your emails: Try to stay away from generic “Dear Friend” greetings. Take the time to call people by their name. And, if someone’s donated to you in the past, remind them of the gift they made. This creates a connection and shows someone you care. 
  1. Thank donors: Always thank your donors who’ve given in the past. Appreciation goes a long way. Remind them about what you were able to do with their gift. Appreciate their gifts and you will likely get donors continued support.
  1. Ask more: Don’t be shy. Think of your emails in sets of series for your campaigns. For example, I’m always advocating a three-part welcome series. Ask, and then ask again. If you give your donors good reasons and rationale, they will support you.
  1. Hit on emotion: 80 percent of the reason someone will give has to do with emotion. The remaining 20 percent is logic. Convey a compelling story for why people should donate and then back it up with reason.
  1. Overall gift amount: When you’re doing a campaign, give people an understanding of the total amount of money you need to raise. Let people know why you need that money and how their gift will help you achieve your goal.
  1. Specific gift amount: Segment your list. If you have new donors, ask them for a specific range. Segment your donor base and bump them up depending on their previous gift range. Always ask for a specific amount.
  1. Specific donation amount: If someone gives you $25, what does that enable you to do? This helps people understand where their gifts are going. If you say, for example, $25 allows one student to be tutored for a month, it’s easy for a donor to make the connection between their gift and a student.


Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: How to Dominate Your Fundraising to Create Your Success” (Free Digital Download)


© 2016 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.