Reaching donors that are willing and able to give is harder than ever for leaders in the youth activity space, but fundraising and donations are essential strategies when seeking the funding you need to keep programs active. Holding the attention of your target market is increasingly difficult, as parents, local leaders, and other reliable donor groups have their attention split between countless responsibilities.
Traditional bake sales, social activities, lotteries, and other fundraising staples are no longer popular options — or an option at all for many schools and organizations. But just like new work-from-home norms are settling into place across the country, youth sports, band, and activities directors can turn to virtual channels to secure funding. According to Charity Digital, adding email-based fundraising is a worthwhile investment:
“Emails offer charities huge potential, particularly with regards to fundraising. Good email marketing allows charities to make a personalized, optimized appeal to hundreds or thousands or millions of potential donors, all with a little preparation and the swift click of a button.”
Whether your organization is completely new to email marketing for fundraising or email fundraising is quickly becoming your top strategy, some simple mistakes can have grave consequences for reaching your fundraising goals and budget requirements. Read through this quick list and avoid these five common mistakes in the email fundraising process.
1. Forgetting to Segment
Corporate marketing is all about market segmentation, and taking some tips from their playbooks can make your own fundraising and marketing initiatives even stronger. Whether your fundraising email list is big or small, not everyone is on it for the same reasons.
Your list may be full of parents, participants, alumni, volunteers, and administrative members. While many of these groups may make up your target groups, they will all need slightly different messaging and strategies to make the most of their fundraising potential.
Instead of leaving all your contacts on one list, start to segment them into separate groups based on the categories that make the most sense to your organization. Then you can start to craft different email fundraising approaches centered around their schedules, the default donation amounts that specific group is likely to feel comfortable making, specific messaging they will relate to most, and other personalization factors that will make each email generate a higher ROI.
Segmentation strategies can even help with more technical aspects of your email fundraising, such as when you send out those emails, how frequently you email them, what new track they should go on if they engage with your email message, and more.
2. Ignoring Emotional Plugs
Making donations hinges on emotions far more than day-to-day purchases and investments. So if your emails are overly formal, dry, or even boring, they aren't going to make readers interested in moving forward with a donation. Consider these elements that can add more emotion to both individual emails and email marketing campaigns:
- The Content: Your email headers, the body of the message, and your call to action (CTA) all need to work together to tell a story as concisely as possible that moves your potential donors to act.
- The Graphics: Today's emails have virtually no limits when it comes to your images, colors, fonts, and videos. You can add in videos from the last game, include group pictures that show current and past members, and pepper your emails with GIFs to keep engagement high. Graphics are crucial for getting attention and engaging your audience, so make sure you don't stick to text-only emails.
- The Emotional Appeal: Emotional plugs matter, but if you have too many or they're too disorganized, they won't be as persuasive. Even worse, they may come across as fake. Plan out what emotional themes you want to focus on for each campaign — and each specific audience. For example, past alumni and volunteers may be motivated by nostalgia, while current parents may be excited and eager to participate.
It's also crucial to let prospective donors know exactly where their money will go. Tell them about what their donations will fund, who it will help, and why it's such a priority for your organization. This invests your donors in the results of the fundraising and gives them a more defined image of how they're helping.
3. Making It All About You
But, while your potential donors will be invested in your organization and your goals, they also want to see what they can get for making a donation. So make prizes, purchases, and fundraising products prominent in your emails, at least every once in a while.
Make sure your catalog is easy to browse through, and embed clickable images in an email that acts as a catalog all on its own. Showcase the unique benefits of a community coupon book. Depending on your organization's past fundraisers, you can even include fun images of past popcorn fundraisers, cookie sales, and other fun events.
4. Hiding Your CTA
You've hooked your audience so they open the email, they've skimmed through your text and images, and they know you're looking for donations.
Even with the most motivated and generous audiences, if you don't have a clear call to action (preferably on a clickable button that goes straight to a pledge page), they'll lose steam. They may get frustrated by not knowing how to make the donation you're asking for, they can lose interest if a button isn't conveniently in front of them, or they may simply forget because they didn't donate when they felt the impulse.
Fix this mistake by adding colored CTA buttons and donation hyperlinks throughout your email. Including them at the top and the bottom of the email (and throughout the middle if you're sending a long email) means readers can click and donate at any time without having to scroll around and look for a link.
5. Only Using Email
Email fundraising should certainly be at the top of your list, but it shouldn't be the only strategy in your playbook. Combine email fundraising with any in-person events your organization can host. Combined with social sharing and strong social media marketing, call-a-thons, and other effective strategies, email marketing can ensure you reach everyone on your list and that they receive plenty of calls to donate through multiple different channels.
Boost Your Email Fundraising Campaigns With Help From Launch Fundraising
Too many activity organizations have limited budgeting that is restricting the activities you can offer, your retention and recruiting programs, and the resources you can provide participants. But email fundraising campaigns can make all the difference. See how Launch Fundraising can help you reach prospective donors with the right messages and raise more money.