Fundraising & Development

Raise more money with your next fundraising appeal

February 4, 2021 Nonprofits Decoded Team
fundraising appeal email tips for nonprofits and charities

Fundraisers, at their heart, aim to get more money for your nonprofit that you can help further your cause and mission. That being the case, it’s important that you get the most out of each fundraiser so that you can make a bigger change.

Today we’re going to teach you about some secret tips and tricks that you can use to raise more money with your next nonprofit fundraising appeal to ensure that you never miss your goal. Without further adieu, let’s get right into it.

Clear your email list of inactive addresses

While it might seem gratifying to see a large email list, it won’t do you any good if most of the recipients on there aren’t active with the nonprofit anymore. We don’t mean those who missed one fundraiser, but rather recipients who’ve been ignoring every single email that you’ve sent them over the past few months.

Looking to clean your email list? Services like Email List Verify allow you to automatically clean your list. These services ensure the emails are real and not spam traps that will hurt your deliverability.

In cases like these, you’d be better off removing them from the donor pool and focusing on those who are still active with the nonprofit. You have a finite amount of energy that you can dedicate to your fundraiser so don’t squander it on people who aren’t engaged with your cause anymore. There are various online tools available that can show you how often a recipient opens your emails, and you can use these to find out who’s still active.

Work on your email open rate

Your fundraising emails could have the best content in the world and it wouldn’t make any difference if they never get opened. That being the case, you should really work on getting your open rate up if you want to raise more money on your fundraisers.

email analytics and reporting example from Mailjet

The easiest way to do this is through a method known as split testing — sometimes also referred to as A/B testing. Split testing just means that you try out two or more subject lines and see which one works best. If subject line B has more opens than subject line A then you’ll know it’s more effective and can stick to it.

Campaign Monitor research shows the average open rate for nonprofit emails is 20.39% with a click-through of about 2.66%.

You can then test subject line C against it to see which one of the two yields a higher open rate. Don’t be put off by the term A/B testing, you could go all the way to Z if you wanted. Just try to focus on a small group with each round so you don’t get overwhelmed with the results. Asking questions can also raise your open rate for fundraising emails. Just avoid writing your subject lines in all caps as this will be ignored and classified as spam by the recipient.

Optimize your website donation page

Emails, events, and social media all bring more attention to your cause, but this attention won’t translate to funding unless your donation page is optimized. You should be monitoring the rate at which your donation page converts.

This is actually quite easy as all you need to do is calculate the total amount of visitors to the page divided by the number of people who actually donate to your nonprofit. Keep tweaking and improving the copy until you see a rise in the conversion rate.

Adding images that grab the reader’s eye could help. Making your page more skimmable through the use of formatting has also proven effective when it comes to boosting the conversion rate on your donation page.

Ask the right donation amounts

While it can be tempting to try and get the most out of every donor, that’s a pitfall that will end with you missing your goal more times than not. It might seem logical to ask high amounts from each and every donor, but that will severely impact the number of donors who actually participate in the fundraiser.

donation form amounts example from the American Red Cross

On the other hand, you shouldn’t be asking an amount that’s too low or the donors may feel that their impact is expendable and thus not worth the time it takes to even place the donation. A good middle-ground is to have staggered donation amounts to fit a variety of donor levels.

Of course, this can vary based on your cause, your fundraiser goal, and the number of supporters that you currently have. Just don’t go to the bottom of the barrel with $1 asks nor to the extreme highs with emails requesting a $1,000 donation. Of course, if you have donors that historically donate large amounts it’s fine to give a bigger ask, just don’t send out a mass email asking for thousands and expect good results.

Make donating super easy

If you really want to raise more money then you should ensure that the donation process is easy. Not everyone has the time to fill out a form with the credit card information — and some people might even be paranoid and think you’re trying to phish for their data.

Providing a wide array of payment options will make it easier for your donors to support your cause. Having a “donate now” button on the main donation page will increase your conversion rate significantly. PayPal and Stripe are two common options used by nonprofits due to the simplicity of their interface.

Some nonprofits have even modernized their donation systems by utilizing cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and others. Avoid raw links as these are generally subject to more suspicion than buttons and may reduce the amount of money that you raise with your appeals. Paranoid donors are few and far between, but it’s better not to take that chance when the fate of your fundraiser lies in the balance.

Are you ready for your next appeal?

As you can see, raising more money with your next fundraising appeal isn’t rocket science by any means. It just comes down to following a few good practices and taking the right approach.

If you purge inactive recipients from your mailing list, increase your open rate, optimize your donation page, ask for the right amounts, and make donating a hassle-free process then you’re sure to hit your fundraising goals with every appeal. That’s all we have for today and happy fundraising!