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Why You Should Kick Your Fears About Email Fundraising to the Curb

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Why You Should Kick Your Fears About Email Fundraising to the Curb

An email icon is in the foreground. A finger clicks it from behind. A woman's figure is blurred in the background.


Email is an essential part of a successful year-end fundraising campaign.

But there are some common fears that keep nonprofits hesitant to dive into the world of email fundraising.

Let’s kick those to the curb and figure out just how to ask for a donation in an email.

Common Fears About Email Fundraising for Nonprofits

“Our donors are older, and they don't want to donate online.”

It can be easy to make sweeping assumptions about our donors based on commonalities like age. But not only do we run the risk of being ageist when we do this, we also overlook prime opportunities. 

The reality is that people of a variety of ages write checks to nonprofit organizations, including Millennials and Gen X! But all age groups are online in large numbers, as well, and they can all benefit from a digital nudge – even if they still plan to donate via check.

Too often, this argument becomes an excuse to avoid diving into the world of online fundraising. But even if the majority of your donors don't actually give online right now, that shift is underfoot – and it will continue.

“Emailing our donors too much will make us seem desperate.”

There seems to be a fear that actually asking for money will make your organization look like it isn't accomplishing its goals. 

But what if, instead of "desperate," a series of year-end fundraising emails actually made your organization seem more legitimate? 

Think about it: at the end of every year, the average individual is inundated at every turn with fundraising messages from major organizations – via email, on television, on the radio, and even at the check-out counters of major retailers across the country. 

What if a well-executed email fundraising campaign could actually make you seem more "on top of it"? What if, in the eye of your donors, it elevated you to a similar playing field as St. Jude's, the Jimmy Fund, the Red Cross, or any number of other big-deal organizations that employ these same tactics year after year?

“We don't know what to write about, and our emails seem stiff and uninteresting.”

If you're new to writing emails, it can be tough to switch gears! 

When you're sitting down to plan your content, brainstorm the kinds of things you wind up telling your friends and family about…

  • New staff or volunteers
  • Community success stories
  • Big funding accomplishments
  • Media mentions your organization has gotten
  • Your organization’s impact data from the past year 

These are exactly the types of messages your email subscribers want to read.

“Isn’t it too much to email and ask for money? I keep hearing about ‘donor fatigue.’”

What's commonly referred to as "donor fatigue" is really more akin to annoyance over being asked for money repeatedly without any other engagement from an organization. This is your one family member who complains about every single dish at the Thanksgiving table – without ever mentioning a single thing they liked. It's tiring.

And just like you'd eventually tune out Aunt Mary's complaints, your supporters will tune out your fundraising asks... If that's all you ever send them. 

If you haven't been good about stewarding your donors properly all year round, you must change that in the new year. For now, make sure your year-end fundraising campaign has balance. 

Sprinkle fundraising emails throughout a broader series that includes impact stories, event invitations, relevant movie or book recommendations, community spotlight features, and other pieces of content that don't include an ask.

“If we send too many emails, people might unsubscribe.”

It's true! The more emails you send, the more you risk people unsubscribing from your mailing list. 

Believe it or not, a certain number of unsubscribes per email is a good thing. 

The people unsubscribing aren't "lost" supporters – they simply weren't supporters of your nonprofit to begin with. And that's okay! Your organization won't be for everyone, and everyone won't be your ideal supporter.

As you grow your list and send more and more authentic and compelling emails, the people who stick around will be the ones who actually open your emails and do things like click the links inside them. They'll be the ones who donate, volunteer, and evangelize for your organization. 

Email Fundraising Can Be a Goldmine for Nonprofits

...But in order to take advantage of the great things email fundraising has to offer, you’ll need to push those fears aside and give it a try!

With patience, persistence, and a little bit of creativity, you’ll find the strategy that works for you.


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