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9 Actionable Tips for Writing Kick-Ass Emails to Nurture Donor Relationships

‘Donors’ are an integral part of the nonprofit ecosystem. Maintaining and nourishing donor relationships is extremely vital. And while events and conferences go a long way, the most effective and cost-effective method is to write an email that appreciates them, encourages them, and makes them grateful they decided to donate to your cause.

According to a recent study, a person receives over 200 emails a day! There are emails from hundreds of commercial enterprises competing to draw the consumer’s attention to their products and services.

How do you stand out?

Here’s how-

1.Write an awesome email subject line- Headlines are the first thing a person sees! Your headline is the sole decision maker whether someone will open the email or not. If the headline is not intriguing enough, your audience will definitely miss it in the whirlpool of emails bombarding their inbox. The headline of your email should spark some curiosity, make them wonder, or stir some emotion causing them to open the email!

For example:

‘We are want your support’ can be → ‘Your awesomeness is needed to drive our project’.

‘We have successfully raised funding!’ can be  → ‘Yep, that just happened!’ (increasing curiosity among your audience)

‘Happy First anniversary to your last donation!’

‘You make change happen’

‘Can we count on your support today?’


Makes so much of a difference, isn't it?

Psst, a great tool to use while deciding upon a punchy headline is CoSchedule. It analyses your headline and suggests improvements. Give some time and thought to your headline. This is a not-to-be neglected section!


2.Be concise- No one likes to read looooong mails! Make sure your emails are short and crisp, avoid verbosity and keep the content to the point. So if you are sending a project update, do not include any other frills with it. Give the project update and include the call to action just after.

3.Use videos, pictures, and infographics-  A picture is, indeed, worth a thousand words! Use visual elements to spice up your mail so that your donors can understand and process quickly, and in a more entertaining way.

Ideally the text to image ratio should be 60/40.

Source: Campaign monitor

Always make a point to take loads of good, quality pictures, videos of the project site, the community being impacted, experiences of volunteers, and testimonials of the community members who have benefited.

4. Gratitude- How do you feel when someone expresses their gratitude to you? Does it bring an instant smile to your face and make you feel awesome? “Thank You” are not just two words, they are a song unto themselves!

Remind your donors how much their contribution has impacted and transformed lives! Even an animated thank you badge or simply a thank you card or note touches the heart and builds a sweet remembrance in the mind.

5.Progress updates- When someone has contributed to your project, it always feels great to be updated about the progress and whereabouts of the project. It creates a deep sense of belonging and makes them feel involved. Even if it’s not a significant progress, keep your donors aware about what’s buzzing and what needs to be done! It confirms their belief that they donated to a good cause and keeps them coming back for more.

6.Include social media links- Always include your social media channels in your mail. The donor might want to tweet about the project update or share with his network regarding the success story he just read about. We don’t want to miss reaching a wider audience in the social media ecosystem!

7.Personalization is key:  The more personalized the communication, the more impact it creates on the reader. Everyone desires to feel special. Personalization shows that you are having a real and personal conversation with your email recipient. Here's an example of how it can massively affect open rates.


Source-Next After

When the donor sees the second email, he is more likely to open it even though he does not know Camille, she seems to know him! That makes him more willing to open the mail.

Make the conversation personal and heartfelt!

8.Include a call to action-  It’s extremely important to guide the content of the email in a specific direction. Whether it is for donation, social media engagement, inviting applications for volunteering, or participation for an event, the call to action should be clear, short, and enticing, and should be well highlighted -- preferably with a button.

9.Use Empowering language- The choice of wording is extremely important. You don’t want to sound helpless asking for donations or on an invite for an event. Supercharge your email with empowering words which infuse a sense of upliftment and positive motivation. Here’s a list to get you started with it right away!

           Make a contribution                         Donate now

          Click here to donate                         Make a difference today

          Give what you can                            No donation is too small

         Please, we need your help               Be a hero to someone in need

          We can’t do it without you                Donors like you make this possible

          Every dollar helps                             Donate $5 now


So now you're ready to shoot kick-ass emails to your donor family! What are some tips that have worked for you in the past? Please share!


About the author:

Venkat Dulipalli is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of VolunteerMark

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