min read

Asking for money can be awkward, sometimes leaving you feeling like a bother to the other person. The trick to avoiding these feelings is in the presentation you give and the manner in which you ask. Use these tricks and you will have the perfect fundraising email, helping you to avoid negative feelings.

Tell a Story

Like any good book, you need a hook – an opening line that creates a need to keep reading. Most people see fundraising emails and skim over before sending it to spam. Give them a reason to stop and keep reading.
Give their heartstrings a tug, if you can. Connect a real person who has benefited from your work to the donor, providing them with a reason to believe in your efforts. The person you decide to talk about is your focus: they are the hero, not your organization.
This story was compelling enough to dedicate you to your cause to fundraise for it, so spark that fire within your audience, as well.

It’s All About the Donor

You wouldn’t be where you are without all of the help from individuals who believed in you – treat them as such, an individual.
Your fundraising email greeting should use their first name. Make it clear that you know who you’re speaking to, not just sending mass messages.
Utilize the second person. Use the pronouns you, your, and yours. They are your focus. Use those pronouns to explain how their support alone is so valuable, rather than everyone’s as a whole.
Then, connect your donor to the outcome so they feel a sense of responsibility to the good work being done. Not only does making your message personal create a connection to the cause, but it offers a relationship between you two. Your relationship is sparked by a common passion and drive to help.

Talk Value

Don’t begin your interactions asking for a one-way relationship based on funding, but do not be afraid when it comes time to talk money.
Talking about money is a great way to build trust between your organization and the donor. Transparency is key. Being completely honest about the breakdown of where money goes builds confidence for the donor.
In today’s day and age, we are all very aware of the many scams that exist in the world. People are cautious about where they put their money because of it.
An honest breakdown of your plan to use the funding makes it perfectly clear to donors where their support will go. Try tying the funds to outcomes or small milestones for the campaign. For example, if you’re funding for people facing food insecurity, break down in funding in terms of how many meals will be provided or that it will go towards renting kitchen space and the total cost of that effort.
Providing money to another individual or organization is an act of trust, don’t neglect to build that confidence before asking.

Keep it Short & Sweet

No one has endless time to spend reading fundraising emails, especially if it’s from an unknown sender. With that said, keep it short and sweet. Limit your paragraphs to just a few sentences each, keeping the entire email at just a few paragraphs as well.
To make it even easier on the eyes, toss in some headlines to emphasize the important points you wish to make. Try using bold headers for sections or to make your primary call-to-action stand out.
Last but not least, always remember to check for spelling and grammar errors. Nothing is more embarrassing than trying to make a good first impression and showing a lack of effort or knowledge.

Show the Impact of a Dollar

We all know that small donations won’t cure world hunger, but it’s a good place to start. Every donation has a positive outcome, no matter how small. Do not neglect to emphasize this to your audience.
What is the outcome of their donation? Provide a clear path for donors to connect the dots between their money and the seen outcome. People will continue their support if they see just what they have provided.
Make the impact as clear as you can. Making statements like “for just $20 you can supply a child with a meal a day for an entire month,” makes the impact feel immediate and doable for a donor.
Realistic numbers and actualization of a person’s goal to help create a strong call to action.

Ask, Ask, Ask

I know, you don’t want to be annoying or pushy … so don’t. You can’t expect anything if you aren’t willing to ask for it, just get creative in how you ask. It’s may be the same question, but there are different phases.
Your story and display of impact will both be a call to action – a form of asking. You can send hero stories or human interest pieces that drive people to your page. You can also try something as simple as linking your donation page within a statement such as “you can make a difference.” It really is as easy as bolding your statement asking for help in creating change.

But Don’t Ask Too Soon

First and foremost, build a relationship and brand awareness before asking for monetary support. People are willing to help friends, not strangers. Reach out to donors on a human level and avoid treating the situation as an automated call.
Once you have a person’s attention, you can encourage them to learn more about your campaign. Offer up videos and articles to grab the attention of the viewer. Provide every reason for them to fall in love with your cause, just like you did.
The first fundraising email you send is all about them and cultivating a relationship, not even including an ask at all. Build their confidence in you by showing respect, wait to ask for a donation until at least the second encounter. Fundraising occurs at the emotional level, so you need to respect that and appeal to it.

Give Them Freedom to Choose

The freedom to choose is crucial for donors, otherwise it wouldn’t be called a donation. We’re not here to bully people into opening their wallet, we are seeking compassionate support. People can say no.
When reaching out to potential donors, respect for free will go a very long way. According to scientific research, giving individuals the choice to not donate nearly doubles the likelihood of receiving a donation in the end.
Try offering other forms of support as alternatives. Allow people to Champion your cause on social media or through email. Provide them with templates to make sharing easy and fun so that they can have an impact even without a donation.
Your goal should be engagement above all else.
Katie Haystead

Katie Haystead

Senior Vice President, Partnerships

With over a decade of experience working with K12 schools and higher education institutions’ fundraising efforts, Katie Haystead now oversees the partnerships team at Community Funded. Her passion for partner success and satisfaction aligns with Community Funded’s priorities and Katie’s unique background is well suited to manage the day to day operations of our partnerships team as well as new market acquisition.

Prior to joining the team at Community Funded, Katie served many roles within the Fundraising Division at Ruffalo Noel Levitz. Her experience ranges from working onsite and remotely with clients executing phonathon programs, developing annual giving strategies, onsite consultations and also developing multichannel strategies allowing for strong synergy between annual giving channels and creating strong major and planned gift pipelines.

Katie is based in Metro Detroit and is a graduate of Central Michigan University, where she worked for the phonathon for 3 years while working towards her History Major.

Kim Jennings

Kim Jennings

Senior Generosity Strategist, Generis

Kim Jennings, CFRE is a skilled fundraising leader who believes in the power of Christian education to raise up thoughtful, strong, committed leaders who can make our world a better place for all.

Kim Jennings

Todd Turner

Director of Digital Strategies, Generis

In addition to his 11 years overseeing Chuck Swindoll’s Insight Living Ministries communications department, Todd Turner has worked as a digital strategist for faith based organizations across the globe..

Kim Jennings

Jennifer Perrow

Senior Generosity Strategist, Generis

Jennifer is a skilled fundraising and communications professional who helps ministries articulate vision, communicate mission, and raise abundant funds to advance Kingdom priorities.