Back to Blog

The ingredients of a good fundraising email

Crafting a good fundraising email is like baking the perfect cookie or presenting a wonderful meal spread. You take time to gather the best ingredients, fine-tune the recipe, and share your creations with those around you, looking forward to the smile on their faces that show you you’ve brightened their day.

First, prep your creative space

Like any good chef, baker or mixologist, you need to set the stage. Prep your space and the tools around you to create your best work. Choose an email marketing platform that provides you with the tools to not only craft your emails but delivers resources and metrics to assess the results.

One part great subject line, three parts great content

Then, identify the right ratio of content to additional supporting pieces within your email to call your email recipe a success. We suggest a 1:3 ratio that looks like this:

  • One-part great subject line: It’s like the smell of whatever you’re cooking—what will draw them in? What will entice them to open your email? Be creative, be succinct.
  • Three parts content: Once they’ve clicked, give them the experience they were hoping for by prepping the content within your fundraising emails to be
    • Informative. This is the ‘meat’ of your email. It’s the who, what, why and story that draws them in.
    • Visual. Presentation is key. Share photos of impact that support the story you’re telling.
    • Actionable. Keep them engaged and ask them to act. This is the part of your email where you invite them to click on a button, move to your fundraising landing page, sign up for an event, share their story, etc.

Give it your signature

Would you rather dine on a fabulous dinner made by Wolfgang Puck and Gordon Ramsay or a chain fast-food restaurant?

We’d pick the name-brand chefs, too.

The same goes for your readers—ensure them that a real person is behind the message. The ‘from’ field in your emails should have the name of someone from your organization. This can be your executive director, your fundraising chair or your VP of development. Attaching a more recognizable name gives an extra sense of trust and validity to your emails.

Don’t forget the secret ingredient

What’s your special sauce? The part that will make your email stand out from the rest? This is your secret email ingredient.

Maybe it’s the way you sign off or the way you embed a fun 30-second video in each email. Maybe it’s a photo collage of your last event or a hidden message readers need to find and share on social media. It could even be a quirky tidbit or fun fact you share about the team that invites readers to feel even more connected with the people within your organization.

Your secret ingredient is what readers will gravitate toward, be curious about, and set aside that special place in their hearts for. Find yours and add it to your mix.

Share the goods with the right audience

Once you crafted the perfect email, it’s time to share it with your audience. This is where segmentation comes into play. If you’re crafting a recurring e-newsletter, the best practice is to send emails to all those who have opted into your list, no matter their donor, volunteer or other status. But outside of e-newsletters, there are other email communications where it makes sense to identify precisely who in your database will get the goods. You may want to send retention emails to lapsed donors, recurring gift emails to those who typically make one-time annual fund gifts, or thank you emails to your volunteers.

Think about the content and email types you want to send throughout the year and consider segmenting your audiences into some of the following categories when doing so:

  • Event attendees
  • Current donors
  • Lapsed donors
  • Current volunteers
  • Past volunteers
  • Board members
  • One-time donors or tribute gift donors

The right combination of strategy and content will get that fundraising email just right. And the great thing about perfect recipes is that when you’re the keeper of those special ingredients, your audience will be enticed to open those emails and come back for more. For more email tips, check out our on-demand email marketing tips to engage donors and free email marketing calendar template. Happy crafting!

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald is the President and Founder of 4aGoodCause, a simple and effective fundraising CRM that specializes in earning recurring revenue for nonprofits through monthly giving. For 25 years, Ronald has had the joy of doing what he loves, building online solutions that make a difference in the world. He’s helped raise millions of dollars online for small nonprofits across the country. Connect with Ronald on LinkedIn.

Grow your monthly giving program with our resources

Learn More