Online Fundraising Basics: Lesson 5
Now that you understand how to collect online donations, as we discussed in our previous lesson, you’re likely excited to get those donations flowing so you can focus on the work of your cause. But before you actually receive money, your people need to know they can give online and how to do it. And even before you can tell them those things, you need to build your email list. In this lesson, we’ll go over a few ways to do just that.
A donor relations plan involves laying a foundation for lasting and meaningful relationships with your support base. It involves direct and ongoing interaction. This is the way you earn the support of your donors over time. If you hope to build your donor base and ask for online donations, an important part of your donor relations plan is email marketing.
While it seems like a simple concept, many people don’t know how to ask for a donation in an email. The prospect of it can be a bit intimidating, since email marketing in general has some negative connotations. In reality, it’s really not a bad thing, since marketing is simply communicating what you do. When you share, you’re giving people the opportunity to play a vital role in the work of your cause. This involves inviting them to donate money so you can do the actual work it takes to make this world a better place.
Guidelines For Building A Quality Email List Of Supporters
- Build your email distribution list of people who have given you permission to communicate with them. You can also include those who have conducted business with your organization or have donated to you in the past year, but the best case is to use those who have given you permission to contact them by email.
- Ask people for their email addresses, and keep those addresses in a database. Start with the people who have already given you permission to contact them: your donors and volunteers.
- Get in touch with those who haven’t given you permission to email them. Tell them the truth. Explain that you are starting a monthly newsletter and want to stay in touch with them through email.
- When people sign up for your newsletter, send them an immediate thank you email so when they get their first regularly scheduled email from you, they’ll remember they signed up for your list.
- Be aware of the legal requirements for email marketing. You will need to have a mechanism for people to unsubscribe to your lists, and you must honor their requests. Many people will give once for a specific reason, and if you respect their wishes, they will keep you in mind in the future. But if you continue to email them after they have indicated they want that to cease, it may frustrate them.
Tips For Gathering More Subscribers
- Make sure your donor envelope has a space for email addresses and a checkbox to opt into email updates.
- Put a sign-up button on your website.
- Have a newsletter sign-up form at every one of your organization’s events.
As you start building a good distribution list, remember the emails you collect represent real people and an opportunity for communication. They do not simply represent potential donations. Treat people with respect, honesty, and openness, and have a clear and valuable reason to communicate with them each time you send out an email. Your donors will appreciate it, and you will be rewarded for doing so.
Tips For Building Email Contacts
For further information about email marketing and how to ask for a donation in an email, read this article about great ways to build a solid email list of donors. You can also check out this larger collection of email list strategies as you dabble in digital marketing.
How To Do Nonprofit Email Marketing
Once your email list is built, how do you use it when asking for donations? In our next lesson, we’ll give you concrete ways to stay connected with your donors via email.