For most nonprofits, email communication is a critical part of the annual strategy. Whether fundraising emails are being scheduled to help drive support for an upcoming initiative, attendance for a fundraising event, or simply to give monthly updates about the nonprofit, email strategy is not something to overlook!
At the same time, we’ve seen a boom in the use of online and mobile technology to help support traditional fundraising. These more “modern” tools include mobile silent auctions, donation pages, and peer-to-peer campaigns.
While many nonprofits have worked on robust email strategies and others have begun embracing online/mobile fundraising technology, very few nonprofits have combined the two.
Because many new fundraising tools are hosted online, it is now easier than ever to gain massive exposure for your fundraising initiatives simply by messaging your email list.
In this post, we’re going to walk you through a practical example of how you can use fundraising emails to promote your online fundraiser. For this example, we will focus specifically on a mobile silent auction, but this approach can work for donation pages, peer-to-peer campaigns, and fund-a-need campaigns, too.
1. Create a Schedule
To begin, we’d encourage you to create a general schedule that your team will follow for sending emails. This will include the number of emails that your team plans on sending, along with the date and time that they will be sent out. Of course, these variables will depend both on the length of your fundraiser and its end date. Based on the length of your fundraiser, we would recommend a simple strategy of three emails:
- Announcing the start of the fundraiser
- Mid-way through the fundraiser
- The day before your fundraiser will end
- The last day of your fundraiser
2. Solidify Your Messaging
Regarding the actual content of your fundraising
emails, here a few tips to follow. Our first recommendation is to ensure that each email offers emotional relevance. Explain the cause or initiative that is being supported by your online auction, and tell your audience why the cause is important.
After you’ve nailed down the relevance of each email, it’s time to include strong calls to action. In the example below, you’ll see multiple CTAs:
Not only does this email encourage the audience to begin bidding, but it includes multiple bright buttons saying “Bid Now.”
This example also brings us to our last tip – be as visual as possible! High-quality images are a great way to grab your audience’s attention, and they can also help increase click rates (this means more bids!). In the above example, you’ll see a strong banner image coupled with images of some of the great auction items included in this nonprofit’s mobile silent auction.
3. Highlight Your Best Items
While you craft the messaging for your emails, try to determine which of your items are your “big ticket” items. These may be your highest-value items or those that you know will draw interest. Once you’ve identified the right items, be sure to include references to them in your emails. Because your auction is online, you can include the links to bid on these items directly in the email, making the bidding process a breeze for potential bidders!
4. Create Urgency
Creating a sense of urgency among your potential bidders is a great way to generate additional bids. To create urgency, we suggest strong CTAs and messaging around the end of the auction:
- “Time is running low…”
- “This is your LAST day to bid!”
Additionally, different visuals look great in email format and can really help drive action. Below is an example of a dynamic countdown to the end of this nonprofit’s auction:
5. Get Items Ready Early
Online silent auctions allow your nonprofit to accept bids at any time, maximizing your fundraising window and helping you raise more money. By this logic, it would make sense to begin promoting your online auction as soon as possible. This means preparing and collecting your auction items early in order to promote your auction page as early as you can. Having your items ready earlier also gives your a better idea of your email schedule based on the length of time that you will be accepting bids.
6. Track Your Fundraising Emails!
While this is hopefully already being done with all of your fundraising emails, we highly encourage using tracking links in your fundraiser promotion emails. The first step will be to track opens and clicks on your emails – this is standard.
For those who would like to get even more detailed, we would suggest using tracking links for any URL you include in your promotion emails. For example, in the image below, we circled each URL. Some of these URLs bring donors to the general auction page for this nonprofit, while some bring donors to a specific item. For example, are users clicking on your item images to bid, or on the “bid now” buttons?
Tracking these links will give you a better idea of which parts of your email are driving action, allowing you to continuously improve your email strategy.
We hope that you’ve found these tips useful! Please feel free to offer any great examples of fundraising emails that you have created – we’d be happy to share them in this post!