5 things plain-text email does a better job of raising funds

The first few times I saw this, it shocked me: Extra-plain, low-design emails seem to do better than others. The plainer, the better.

It seems wrong that in a medium that easily and routinely includes visuals, sound, video, and all kinds of interactivity … a message that basically looks like a piece of paper pulled out of a typewriter is an effective way to move people to action.

But it’s reliably true. Plain text emails are often the best way to raise money.

Nonprofit Fundraising shows why at 5 Reasons to Send a Plain Text Email:

  1. They’re More Personal. The emails you get from real people that you know are like that. When you take advantage of all the cool things that are possible in email, it looks increasingly like it’s not from a human. That, okay to ignore!
  2. They’re Less Likely to Be Marked as Spam. Some spam filters flag HTML-rich emails as spam. When that happens, your message doesn’t get through, no matter how wonderful it might be. And being flagged as spam increases the likelihood that future emails will also be flagged as spam.
  3. They Take Less Time to Load. Your donors might not have the fast and reliable connection that you have. When people have to wait for something to download, they become more likely by the microsecond to give up and move on.
  4. They are Easier to Forward. Complex formatting can turn into alphabet soup if someone tries to forward it. Say good-bye to the possibility of peer-to-peer fundraising!
  5. They’re More Likely to Be Read. The richness of our digital world makes less-rich things stand out.

Plain text isn’t the only way to do fundraising emails. But it’s possibly the best bet in a lot of situations.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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