Giving Tuesday is an annual philanthropy and fundraising event on the Tuesday following American Thanksgiving This is the second post in our series of tips to help you make the most of this philanthropic day. Check out the first post: Using Donor Stories for a Successful Giving Tuesday.
Today we’re going to take a look at how to write a successful fundraising email because let’s face it – one of the best ways to drive people to your donation page online is by email.
Nearly 1/3 of all charitable giving happens in the last three months of the year, according to the 2013 Charitable Giving Index from Blackbaud. To take advantage of this huge influx of giving in December, consider a multi-channel approach to fundraising that includes more than one direct response channel. In my experience, email is often the best digital direct response channel for non-profits to prioritize.
Like direct mail, it is an opportunity to get directly in front of someone with their (possibly) undivided attention. You see, unlike social media, which is increasingly pay-to-play, email increases your chances of reaching your donors.
That being said, not all email appeals are equal. Over the last few years, I’ve seen some pretty bad email appeals. What makes them bad and potentially ineffective are usually avoidable mistakes. If you’re planning on using email as a part of your Giving Tuesday (which I highly recommend), here are a few tips to help you write a great appeal.
HOW TO PLAN A GIVING TUESDAY CAMPAIGN – FUNDRAISING ADVICE
Before revealing the tips for writing a great e-appeal, I want to explain to you the right way to plan a giving Tuesday campaign.
The right way actually involves having a fundraising campaign plan in place:
1. You need to decide what you’re raising money for. A real key fundraising advice is to have a clear call to action. So having something specific, tangible and deadline-driven will get you closer to your campaign goal.
2. Define your campaign goal or A.K.A. your fundraising money goal.
3. Define what channels and what communication form you’ll use before “the” Giving Tuesday Day arrives. It helps to establish what are your communication goals and objectives, which you can read more about in this post.
4. Create your content campaign plan. This content will engage the audience and build the relationship with the campaign during the weeks and days leading up to the main day of the campaign. My personal advice is to start this content communication, 4 weeks prior the campaign day.
5. Create your timeline and project plan. It’s useful for any fundraising campaign and also giving Tuesday.
If you’d like a more in-depth rundown on creating and running a successful fundraising campaign, I highly recommend reading this blog post on how to run a successful fundraising campaign.
For more fundraising advice on how to plan a giving Tuesday campaign, check out the following video and I invite you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more non-profit storytelling advice:
Without any further ado, here are 5 essential tips for writing impressive Giving Tuesday emails.
5 TIPS FOR WRITING GREAT GIVING TUESDAY EMAILS
Tip #1: Start with an intriguing subject line
A subject line is a super important factor in whether someone chooses to open your email or send it directly to the trash. Make it intriguing, be direct and get to the point. The best subject lines I see are the ones that combine a call to action and impact. For example: Help 2 students get scholarships.
In the past three years of subject line testing, I can tell you that subject lines with the words “donate” and “Giving Tuesday” have tended to under-perform for my clients. In 2021, my best performing subject line was “Parents can’t keep up with these costs.” This subject line alludes to a problem for a specific group of people. It’s just vague enough to be interesting and directly tied into the email copy.
You can check these 12 Giving Tuesday templates: Email, Social Media and Text communication, created by OneCause.
Tip #2: Use a clear, compelling call to action
A call to action is what makes giving happen. It is the clear request that directs a donor to your donation page. I can’t tell you how many emails I receive that don’t have a clear call to action. Such a missed opportunity! Key Fundraising advice: Make sure you have at least one call to action in your email.
Here’s what this has looked like in one of my client’s emails:
Tip #3: Be sure to put a call to action above the fold in addition to the end of the email
Another fundraising advice and this is a pro-tip that’s super easy to implement. The common practice is to put a call to action with a hyperlink at the end of the email, just like we would in direct mail. Except that direct mail and email are not equal in this way. Email is a lot shorter and therefore advantageous to include a like above the fold – meaning the link is visible in the email before the reader has to scroll down.
As an example, please see the following Newsletter template for the Giving Tuesday campaign, created by Constant Contact that showcases the “Donate Now” link button within the Newsletter and under the main message that needs to be transmitted.
Source: Here’s an example of one of Constant Contact pre-built Giving Tuesday email templates.
Tip #4: Make sure it’s mobile friendly
66% of emails are opened on a mobile device or tablet, according to Mobile Ink. The screen is smaller, which means that images might not always reformat well. Plus if your email is long, it can seem like it takes forever to scroll to the bottom. Some email marketing service providers (like MailChimp) will allow you to edit and test a mobile style for your campaign.
Remember that any communication needs to have its proper channel in order to reach in the best format for the reader to have easy access to the email sent. A fundraising email will drive traffic to the organization’s website.
There are various email marketing campaign providers, just like Mail Chimp. You can find great tips on How to pick an email service provider for non-profits, post written by Katy Teson from Wired Impact.
Tip #5: Write like a real person
My best editing tip is this – when you’re finished writing a draft, read it out loud. If it doesn’t sound like something you would naturally say, change it immediately. Everyone receives a lot of institutional/corporate sounding emails. Stand out by sounding personable. This will also make your organization memorable.
A GIVING TUESDAY SUCCESS STORY
Now you’ve read my top 5 tips for writing Great Giving Tuesday Emails or any fundraising campaign, here’s a great success story on how a non-profit used storytelling to raise $80k during Giving Tuesday.
In the following interview I had the opportunity to speak with Janice Haskell, the Vice President of Program Development for Dreams InDeed International and also an alumna of The Storytelling Non-Profit Masterclass. I invite you to watch the full interview and listen to Janice’s experience on using Storytelling in her Giving Tuesday Campaign and how she figured what to write when you get writer’s block.
Do you have tips for writing great email appeals? Share your tips in the comments below.
If you’re interested in taking your storytelling work to the next level this year, I want to encourage you to check out an on-demand training I offer called Your 3-Step Non-Profit Storytelling Roadmap.