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Email Fundraising Must
Inspire Donors to Go Online

by Alan Sharpe


Sending an email with no links to follow is like mailing a direct mail appeal without enclosing a reply device or return envelope. Costly.

Email fundraising only works when you inspire donors to go online. Online is where you get their donation. Online is where you secure their advocacy. Online is where you encourage their involvement. That’s why your email appeals, alerts and newsletters must give donors something to do, and must give them somewhere to go to do it. That place is your website.

Websites alone might raise some funds but they won’t build relationships. And email letters might inform donors but they won’t advance your cause unless you drive those donors to your website to act.

The easiest way to show you what I mean is to show you how Mothers Against Drunk Driving does it. Their email newsletters are filled with links.

Down the right side of each email donor newsletter is a simple, vertical navigation bar that looks like this:

  • HELP SUPPORT MADD

    By making a donation today, you’re making a difference for tomorrow. More

  • VICTIM SERVICES

    After the crash, there’s the impact. MADD is here to help you. More

  • TAKE ACTION TODAY!

    Learn what simple things you can do to help save lives and prevent injuries. More

  • FORWARD TO A FRIEND

    Share the latest news with your family and friends. More

Why this is effective:

  • It’s strategic. MADD has a three-fold mission, Activism, Victim Services and Education. These simple, consistent links in every newsletter advance that mission by encouraging subscribers to speak out (Take Action Today!), help victims (Victim Services) and educate others (Forward to a Friend).

  • It’s donor-centered. Notice that every one of these four links speaks directly to “you,” the donor. “You” are making a difference. “You” can save lives. MADD is here to help “you.”

  • It teases. Each link tells you just enough to understand what lies on the other end of that “More >>” link, but no more. You must click the link to satisfy your curiosity.

  • It stresses action. Three of the four links contain active verbs. “Help support,” “Take action,” “Forward.” In direct mail we call this the “call to action.” It calls the reader to act. The quickest way to encourage your donor to donate, sign a petition, take a survey or simply read more is to command them to do so.

To see what this entire email newsletter from MADD looks like, visit http://www.raisersharpe.com/z/madd.htm.

© 2006 Alan Sharpe. Reprinted with permission.

***********************



About the Author: Alan Sharpe, fundraising letter writer, instructor and author, is president of Raiser Sharpe, the full-service direct mail fundraising agency that helps non-profit organizations raise funds, build relationships and retain loyal donors using cost-effective, compelling, creative fundraising letters. Sign up for free weekly tips like this at RaiserSharpe.com.
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