Writing a Compelling Fundraising Email Series

Updated by Justine Hong

While we don’t advise directly on email design and content, we pulled together a few best practice recommendations specific to fundraising emails to help Switchboard users get started.

Crafting Your Initial Fundraising Email
  • Make sure your Call to Action (CTA) adds clear value.
    • To help you do so, think about answering the following questions in your email copy:
      • How will this fund help solve the problem you’re talking about?
      • Why does your audience have to donate now?
  • Use your fundraising page to double down on your impact.
    • If you’re talking about a new topic, try creating an fundraising page about that specific issue, with language that brings home why they should donate
  • [ActBlue-specific] Be sure you’ve added your refcodes
    • Refcodes will help you track which link is generating donations
    • Each email program chooses to set up refcodes differently. There are no rules as to how you set up your nomenclature. We just recommend that you create a convention and stick to it across all sends.
    • If you have an ActBlue webhook setup, you can easily track donations on Switchboard. We also provide a robust fundraising analytics dashboard in-tool for free!
  • [ActBlue-specific] Try splitting your audience into high and low dollar donors.
    • Try testing higher donation asks for high dollar donors, since they’ve shown a higher capacity and willingness to give.
    • Use different refcodes for each email so you can see how much of the total is donated by high-dollar vs low-dollar donors.
  • [ActBlue-specific] Try using Actblue express lane links or buttons so people can select how much they’d like to give within your email
    • You can generate Actblue express lane buttons within your ActBlue account (not on Switchboard). Be sure to include the Actblue disclaimer language included with those buttons.
  • Best practice dictates keeping the first few sentences above your CTA short and to-the-point. This space is often called “above the fold”. The average person only spends 7-8 seconds reading an email, so it’s best to get to the crux of your argument rather quickly.
    • When creating your “above the fold” content, here are some questions to consider:
      • Why should they take your action NOW?
      • How will this action help this campaign?
      • Why do they care about helping this campaign?
  • Try setting a fundraising deadline or goal you’re trying to hit. Switchboard’s visual editor even has an easily embeddable countdown clock you can customize to fit your brand.
  • Try explaining where the money is going to go, and why. In other words: why should they donate to your candidate instead of another one who emailed them recently?
Subsequent Fundraising Emails
  • If you included a deadline or fundraising goal, you probably won’t achieve that goal from a single email. As a result, many programs will follow-up with 2-3 emails (3+ days after the previous email), letting their audience know how close they are to the goal or remind them of the time limit
  • To improve donor relationships, some programs will remove donors who give to their fund from these subsequent emails – this can protect the donors from churning and build goodwill.
  • When sending these follow-up emails, many programs choose to dive deeper in a particular topic or approach the topic from a different angle.
  • Many campaigns send a thank-you note to all their supporters when they hit the goal.
  • When you’re sending these emails, avoid subject lines that contain terms like “fwd:” or “re:” as they have recently been triggering spam filters.

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