Smart Fundraisers Don’t Raise Money This Way. So Why Are You Doing it With Email?

A friend of mine recently expressed frustration over her boss not getting the value of email fundraising, which according to M+R is the most effective channel for online fundraising.

Like many nonprofits, her organization is trying to raise money by blasting their email list. They’re not segmenting their list, and they’re not personalizing their email appeals.

She knows they can do better, but it’s not a priority for her boss.

Smart fundraisers would never try to raise money this way…

A real person is attached to each email in your database. They have struggles, distractions, and shifting priorities. In short, people are squishy – they’re not robots. Putting everyone in the same bucket leads to poor donor retention.

A smart, seasoned fundraiser would never try to raise money using the following strategies:

  1. Shouting at a room full of supporters – Yes, a few sweet folks will stop what they’re doing and listen, but most will feel interrupted. Blasting your email list is no different.
  2. Ignoring cues about someone interested in your cause – When a supporter calls their favorite animal shelter for a tour, the smart fundraiser follows up, and may even be the tour guide! Email marketing tools segment users based on their interest level (lead scoring).
  3. Not say thank you when someone gives you money – Consistently lacking in the gratitude department can destroy long-term donor relationships. Thank you emails are a must for all fundraising campaigns.
  4. Never reaching out to current donors, except for fundraising calls – Supporters are real people with feelings, not ATM machines. An email newsletter keeps donors updated on your cause and their impact.
  5. Asking someone for money, when they just donated yesterday – Awkward for both parties. Supporters may even doubt how well you’re managing other aspects of the nonprofit.

These tactics would never work face-to-face, yet many nonprofits use these same tactics with their email appeals!

Acquiring new prospects, nurturing relationships, and asking the right people at the right time are all important for both in-person and online fundraising.

Who would you rather ask for a donation (if you could only pick one):

  1. A person who’s expressed recent interest in your organization.
  2. A person who barely knows you.

Of course, you’d ask the person who expressed interest!

John Haydon