9 tested ways to raise more money online

As email becomes more and more important as a way to raise funds, we’re learning many of the ground rules that work best.

And it’s often just as counterintuitive as direct mail.

Here’s a useful guide from NextAfter: Email Fundraising: A Quick Reference Guide for Crafting Emails that Lead to More Revenue (downloadable PDF, registration required).

It gives nine guidelines for effective email:

  1. Is your email sender a real person? Not your organization or some other brand-driven non-person.
  2. Does your subject line use these 5 elements? Mystery, Utility, Personalization, Relevance, Authenticity.
  3. Do you say “Hello” and call your donor by name?
  4. Do you explain the problem you’re trying to solve? Donors give to help make specific good things happen.
  5. Do you articulate the impact your donor can have? They need to know their giving will really do something.
  6. Do you demonstrate your organization’s unique approach? You probably aren’t the only organization talking to this donor. Make sure there’s a reason to choose you.
  7. Is there an extra reason or incentive to give now? Make sure you have a matching challenge, a goal, a deadline, an offer of a premiums, or something that encourage quick action.
  8. Do you clearly ask them to donate? Ask specifically and literally. Don’t hint or be vague.
  9. Does your email look like a friend wrote it? Plain text is almost always the most effective approach.

(Get the guide, it’s full of examples and test results.)

You may have noticed that almost all of these points are like things we know work in non-digital fundraising. The media may be very different, but donors are donors.


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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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About the blogger

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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