5 Brilliant Shortcuts to Great Fundraising Emails

Notepad sitting next to an open laptop

Do you have what it takes to write great fundraising emails? Can you make connections with your audience and inspire them to take action? If you want to produce content that converts readers into donors, it will take skill, determination, and timing–but we’ve got the information you need to produce the best fundraising emails. We’re going to show you how to write messaging that will give your campaign a boost!

Gmail on a laptop screen
Step one—click “Compose” of course! It does get a little bit more complicated from there, though.

Once you have the right content in place, you can let your words do the work to get you on your way to whatever adventure you can dream up next. Whether you’re new to fundraising or you’re working on your tenth campaign, every writer can benefit from a refresh. And while it might be tempting to just Google fundraising emails examples and replace the generic details with your own, the best way to make sure your content is high-impact is to let your readers (and potential donors) connect with you through writing.

From the subject line of your fundraising email to the closing call to action, you want to send the kind of online correspondence that will steer clear of the spam folder, inspire readers to click through, and make them feel like the time they spent reading your message was time well spent. If you can do that, you can get those same readers to support your goals and donate to your campaign–so let’s get started!

Five steps to the best fundraising emails

1. Think about your goals.

As the famous saying goes, if you want to be successful, you should begin with the end in mind. When you think about what you want to achieve through your email campaign, focusing on your objectives will help you keep your writing aims true. Great fundraising emails are goal-driven and direct. You can use different styles in your writing (storytelling, humor, empathy-driven, adventure-focused) but the reader needs two things to be clear at the end of your email: what you’re asking for and how they can help.

If you keep your goals in mind, you will be more likely to write the kind of content that helps you connect with your readers and meet the objectives of your campaign. And, those objectives could be complex—so staying goal-focused will help there, too. As an example, if your goals include raising awareness about a cause that you’re planning to support through volunteerism, keeping that goal front and center will help your messaging have greater impact.

2. Write a killer fundraising description.

This is where you build your story into a meaningful appeal. Your fundraising description should inform and inspire. Readers want to know why they should care about your cause, so make sure you take the time to make that clear. Are you off to save the whales? Are you planning to teach children or harvest crops? Will you distribute pellet stoves in rural communities? Or, are you hoping to scale mountains, feed pandas, or join a fishing expedition in Alaska?

The best fundraising emails examples are the ones that introduce the cause, the person (you!), and the others who might benefit. Then, when it’s time for a call to action, the focus turns to what the person helping you fund your dreams has to gain. Are they going to support needed volunteerism? Are they going to help someone who always wanted to see elephants in the wild achieve their dreams? Will they be feeding those in need or feeding the ambitions of an adventurous traveler? With the right messaging, they’ll be inspired to help, whatever the cause!

person writing on paper in a cafe
Pro tip: Sometimes the trick to writing killer fundraising emails is to draft your masterpiece on paper first.

[Titles are important too! Check out 7 of the Best Personal Fundraising Campaign Titles]

3. Make a great first impression.

Start strong! The best fundraising email subject lines will inspire your recipients to read all the way through. If you want to get your readers to become donors, they need to connect with your content—so your goal is to get them to read what you write. This means, send your emails with subject lines that sing! This also means you should avoid clichés and make sure your subject snippet doesn’t feel like clickbait.

So what should you write? Check out online conversion experts (like HubSpot and Optinmonster) for even more high-powered fundraising message examples. Some quick and easy suggestions to get you started would include the creative use of emojis, inspiring serious FOMO amongst your readers, and even being super-direct. For example, a subject heading that says, “Yes! This is a fundraising email!” can be high-impact with the right recipient. And this leads us to suggestion number four…

4. Know your audience.

Whether your style is super-formal or super-casual, the message of your email should be consistent, even if the style and tone of your writing changes. The most important thing to remember is that any modifications you make to best connect with your audience should still produce email content that sounds like you. You might take a different approach when sending great fundraising emails to your friends than to your local community leaders, but you and your cause need to stand out no matter who is on the other end of that email address.

This is why we stressed the killer description in tip number two! If your copy is solid, then you can adapt it for a “Hey, Party People!” intro just as readily as a “Good Afternoon, Senator” intro. And if you’re confused about how to do this, be sure to do some research on sample fundraising emails. We’ve even provided you with a few we really love below this list of tips!

5. Try humor.

We’re not suggesting you put the funny stuff where it doesn’t belong. However, if you can use some appropriately placed humor to your advantage, it can really help! This is another place we would suggest taking a look at sample fundraising emails that produced results. The balance between humor and your authentic appeal can be a delicate one (and it’s certainly not going to work for every fundraising cause), but if you can add some laughter or levity you might inspire a more generous contribution from your recipient when you use funny fundraising emails!

Here’s a great example of how to make that work from a campaign in Agents of God to fund a food truck…written from the point of view of the truck! So, if your campaign is to go scuba diving among the Tangalooma Wrecks in Moreton Island, you could add some fun by offering to share photos of the shipwrecked treasures you find with anyone who supports your adventure. Or, write about how this is the closest you might come to being a pirate, or living the life of Jacques Cousteau. When the average person receives over 120 emails a day, the ones with punch will stand out!

A hand writing in a notebook near an iPhone
Don’t be afraid to spice up your fundraising emails—add a little bit of personality and pizzazz! Authenticity goes far.

Sample fundraising emails we love

In addition to that food truck example (anyone craving street food?), here are a few others to get you thinking big picture. Not all of them are for travel, but all of them have that ~something special~ that makes the difference.

Example #1

This fundraising email sample is one of our favorites; it involves raising money for puppies to attend kindergarten! Check out this excerpt below from one of their fundraising campaigns to see why we love their messaging, and read more campaign messages from the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

Whereas some animal welfare campaigns can cause people to change the channel, hit delete, or look away, this particular organization consistently proves themselves as masters of reaching their audience with humor and a gentle tug on the heartstrings:

It’s another successful graduation from Best Friends Puppy Preschool! This class will make its mark on the world (not your carpet – they learned that’s frowned upon). These furry pioneers want to change the world for homeless animals everywhere. Can they count on your help?

Example #2

It can be hard to ask for support for what might seem like the fulfillment of a lifelong obsession, but put that feeling aside and go all-in on living your dreams, just like the guy in this excerpt did! As you read, you’ll find that it’s clear that he thought about the message and its impact on his audience. We can see how he was able to get creative to address what objections some people might have in a way that was endearing with just the right amount of self-directed snark!

My name is Andrew, and I am obsessed with cats–big cats–the biggest cats…  

Since I’ve been a little kid, I’ve always wanted to see lions, and tigers, and––well, bears are cool, too––but it’s pretty much just been lions and tigers. And now I have the chance! The Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary in South Africa will permit me to have the adventure of a lifetime, at a pretty reasonable rate––the only catch is that I need to get myself to South Africa. Which, as a twenty-year-old guy with a music degree living in my parents’ garage, is kind of hard to do.

But before you tell me to get a job, I want to tell you that I did! In fact, it’s all lined up––I’ll be teaching music to special needs children––but that job is also in South Africa! (Are you sensing a theme here?) So before I live my dreams, see the Jukani big cats up close, and then go on to help share my love of music with children with some special skills, I need your help.

Example #3

Some people you will appeal to for donations are being asked for their support on a pretty regular basis and fundraising fatigue is a real thing. With this in mind, one PTA mom in Texas decided to tackle that head-on and even made the national news as a result of her appeal going viral! Her appeal notice is below; as you read it, think about how you could adapt a similar style for your own cause.

This fundraising notice is being sent in lieu of sending students home with the task of selling things door-to-door, collecting money, and delivering goods. Please help us avoid that by supporting your local PTA and helping us provide students and faculty with necessary support!

Please select one of the options below. Thank you in advance for your support!

___$15 – This is the amount of money I would have spent on the cupcakes I would have purchased to avoid baking for the bake sale we aren’t having.

___$25 – I do not want to hit up my friends and family for donations or purchases, so this is the money I would have spent buying pizzas, cookies, snacks, or ugly wrapping paper.

___$50 – I do not want to walk, run, swim, or do anything with the letters “thon” in it. Here is the money I would have spent on my registration and the “free” t-shirt for the event I am not forced to attend.

___$75 – I do not want to attend any fancy balls, casino nights, or galas. This is the money I would have spent on dinner, drinks, dry-cleaning the clothes I would wear.

___$100 – I am giving you $100 to leave me alone for the rest of this year.

Writing great fundraising emails isn’t rocket science!

A Macbook next to crumpled up pieces of paper
It might take a few rough drafts to create great fundraising emails, but that’s all part of the fun!

There is a skill to writing copy that converts, but it’s not complicated. It just takes time, thoughtfulness, and some practice! From the best fundraising email subject lines to tips for using funny fundraising emails to connect with your audience, we’ve given you some tools to make your writing stronger and more impactful. Now it’s up to you to use that information in the best way possible for your particular goals.

Whether you use one of our fundraising message examples or come up with the perfect template on your own, delivering the best fundraising emails requires you to be honest, direct, authentic, and inspiring. Then, once you have the best content in place, you will want to distribute that content to the largest and most relevant audience possible—and make sure you leverage that even further by sharing it in the most dynamic way. Check out the resources available on FundMyTravel.com today!

Use FundMyTravel to Start Your Fundraising Campaign Today

andi sciaccaThis article was written by Andi Sciacca. Andi is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband and their four-legged family. She works with inspired professionals who are expert practitioners, experienced educators, and well-known contributors to their field. Andi helps them take ideas and put them into practice. When not working or writing, she loves to experience music, see the world, and learn new things. Andi’s favorite places to travel include anywhere she can eat good food – and swim.

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