Email Fundraising

Here is a good article from Alan Sharpe about using email fundraising to encourage online donations.

Sending an email with no links to follow is like mailing a direct mail appeal without enclosing a reply device or return envelope. Costly.

Email fundraising only works when you inspire donors to go online. Online is where you get their donation. Online is where you secure their advocacy. Online is where you encourage their involvement. That’s why your email appeals, alerts and newsletters must give donors something to do, and must give them somewhere to go to do it. That place is your website.

Email Fundraising – You Must Inspire Donors to Go Online

Websites alone might raise some funds but they won’t build relationships. And email letters might inform donors but they won’t advance your cause unless you drive those donors to your website to act.

The easiest way to show you what I mean is to show you how Mothers Against Drunk Driving does it. Their email newsletters are filled with links.

Down the right side of each email donor newsletter is a simple, vertical navigation bar that looks like this:

By making a donation today, you’re making a difference for tomorrow. More>>

After the crash, there’s the impact. MADD is here to help you. More >>

Learn what simple things you can do to help save lives and prevent injuries. More >>

Share the latest news with your family and friends. More >>

Why this is effective:

1. It’s strategic. MADD has a three-fold mission, Activism, Victim Services and Education. These simple, consistent links in every newsletter advance that mission by encouraging subscribers to speak out (Take Action Today!), help victims (Victim Services) and educate others (Forward to a Friend).

2. It’s donor-centered. Notice that every one of these four links speaks directly to “you,” the donor. “You” are making a difference. “You” can save lives. MADD is here to help “you.”

3. It teases. Each link tells you just enough to understand what lies on the other end of that “More >>” link, but no more. You must click the link to satisfy your curiosity.

4. It stresses action. Three of the four links contain active verbs. “Help support,” “Take action,” “Forward.” In direct mail we call this the “call to action.” It calls the reader to act. The quickest way to encourage your donor to donate, sign a petition, take a survey or simply read more is to command them to do so.

To see what this entire email newsletter from MADD looks like, visit

About the Author

Alan Sharpe is president of Raiser Sharpe, a direct mail fundraising agency that helps non-profit organizations raise funds, build relationships and retain loyal donors. Sign up for free weekly tips like this at