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The 5 Keys to Writing Great Fundraising Emails

Email is one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to reach your supporters and donors directly. For years, Dems have used email marketing to build and power their online fundraising programs. 

WinRed provides the tools you need to create landing pages and process donations, but the best page in the world doesn’t matter without traffic. You need to send emails to your supporters and donors to raise money. 

Here are five things every fundraising email needs to be effective.

The Hook

What’s the overall theme and purpose of the email? The most common hooks fall into three general categories:

Current Events – Comment on the latest news headlines with your unique take

News Coverage – Have you been in the news lately? Follow up on media hits with an email to your supporters

Campaign News – Rally the grassroots around campaign milestones by sending fundraising emails related to your ​​campaign launch, new polling data, fundraising deadlines, and new merch products

The Hook in this Tim Scott email is a campaign announcement that he officially filed for re-election. It’s right at the top to draw the reader in from the beginning.

The Call to Action

The call to action is what you’re asking the reader to do, and it needs to be crystal clear. 

  • There should only be one call to action for the reader
  • Repeat it multiple times throughout the email
  • Make your call to action stand out with buttons, highlights, and bolded text

For fundraising emails, the call to action is about making a donation. For list-building emails, it might be to sign a petition or fill out a survey.

Pro-Tip: Have your first call to action appear “above the fold” so it’s visible without scrolling down.

The Call to Action in this NRCC email is to renew a membership. It is clear, listed multiple times, and is bolded or on a button. They also increase urgency with a three-hour deadline.

The Stakes

Your email should clearly answer this question: 

Why should I (your ideal donor) give to your organization, rather than some other organization, or not at all?

  • Create urgency and emphasize why the reader must act now and not tomorrow or next week
  • Use deadlines or goals to increase urgency
  • Be creative and set goals around a specific number of responses from a zipcode or a total number of donations

You’re competing with dozens of emails in a donor’s inbox; quickly explain what makes your campaign different.

The Stakes in this NRCC email are listed out and tell the reader why they need to renew their membership. 

Bonus points for the Membership Card offered in return for a donation.

The Sender & Subject Line

Make sure your email gets opened by using engaging subject lines and changing the sender. Your email is one of a dozen someone receives, so you need to grab their attention.  

  • Change up the sender of your emails

Emails shouldn’t always be from the candidate. Instead, use campaign staff and surrogate senders, and add different campaign positions to distinguish yourself in a busy email inbox.

  • Craft and test different subject lines 

Use questions, emojis, or special offers to get recipients to open your email. Test often and learn what tactics work best for your audience.

Remember, if people don’t open your email, you don’t raise any money.

The Subject Lines and Senders in this inbox vary, and only two use a candidate’s name. The different subject lines include asking questions and capitalizing entire words to drive urgency.

The Donation Page

A great email needs to link to a great donation page. Customize your WinRed donation page to ensure the email’s message is also reflected there.

Maximize your fundraising by using unique WinRed features:

  • Widgets to optimize your pages
  • Upsells to ask for an additional gift

Check out this post to see what the top WinRed pages all have in common.

The Donation Page from the NRCC continues the messaging from the email about the $1 million fundraising challenge. 

There is a clear, urgent deadline, and the page is optimized with various widgets to maximize revenue, such as the Donation Stream and the Amount button Animation.

If you need help getting started, download the WinRed Starter Kit for six sample fundraising emails you can adapt for your campaign.

You’ll also receive a pre-email checklist, graphics for WinRed Upsells, and more!

Download the WinRed Starter Kit here