Online Fundraising Tip of the Week #3: Email, Email, Emailposted on 01/21/2009 by Ethan Austin
Once you’ve set up your online fundaising page and started collecting donations, it’s important to keep your friends and family up to speed with the latest news about your fundraising efforts. The easiest way to do this is through email.
And here’s the big secret to emailing — send out LOTS of them.
The reality is that the majority of your friends and family won’t donate the first time you ask them. Most people don’t even donate the second time you ask them. The trick is you have to be persistent and not get discouraged because in the end, the majority of your friends and family will come around for you. You just have to keep asking.
As a rule of thumb, If your campaign is eight weeks or more, send out an email every two weeks for the first six weeks and then three to four emails in the final weeks and days before your event or your fundraiser, as people often wait until the very last minute to give and most fundraisers have a big final push at the end.
One question people fundraising always ask me is “how do I keep repeatedly emailing my friends and family without getting on their nerves?”
The trick here is to make sure that your emails are interesting and that they offer some updated news to your donors. I look at online fundraising as a two-way street. You can’t just ask your friends and family to open their wallets without giving them something back. You absolutely must give your donors something in exchange for their generous donations, and the best currency to offer them is news and updates about about your fundraising efforts.
When you email your donors with a news update, make the news update the primary subject of the email and the solicitation for more donations secondary. This way your friends and family will become more engaged in your efforts and will want to give to you instead of just giving to you out of a sense of obligation.
This leads to the next question:
What is newsworthy?
And the answer to this is, Almost everything.
If, for example, you are training for an endurance event such as 1/2 marathon or a marathon, you’ll want to email your friends and family any time you participate in a training race like a 5K or 10K, or you reach a training milestone (e.g. the first time you have a 10+ mile training run). Tell them about your trials and tribulations. If you let them know how hard you are working to accomplish your goal, they’ll be more likely to contribute
Even if you’re not training for an event like a marathon, there are tons of newsworthy items you can email your friends about. Here are some other examples:
- You reach a fundraising milestone (e.g. 10%, 25% or 75% of your fundraising goal)
- You had a great personal experience volunteering for your organization that you want to share with others
- The non-profit you are raising money for is in the news (check the organizations website frequently to see if there are updates)
- You are having an offline event, e.g. a bakesale, a bar night, etc to raise money for your cause and you want to remind people who can’t come that they can still donate online at your fundraising page.
Be a Mensch
Lastly (and this is one of the most important things you need to know), ALWAYS let your donors know how much you appreciate their support. Be a mensch and be sincere. Whenever you send out a new email asking for donations, start it off with a “thank you” and end it with a “thank you”. Remember, your friends are under no obligation to donate to you, so let them know that you appreciate it when they do.
Okay, that’s your primer in emailing. Questions and comments are always welcome, and if you need more advice, feel free to contact us directly.
Until next week, happy fundraising!