How to Write Emails to Donors That Get Results

Not every NPO can afford an in-house writer or public affairs specialist to carefully craft compelling emails to donors to ask for funds or volunteers. But that doesn’t mean your NPO can’t still send out effective emails that will grab the attention of potential donors. Here are a few tips to help you create e-mails that will get results.

1. Make a compelling opening statement.

If you could distill your organization’s mission down to a single sentence, what would that sentence be? How can you transform that sentence into something that will grab a donor’s attention? For example, if you are saving the whales, you might say, “We’ve done all we can to save the whales- but now we need your help.”


2. Be clear about your intent.

Most people who have money to donate didn’t get it by sitting around- they’re busy people, and it’s important to respect their time by making your emails specific and succinct. The next part of your letter should contain a clear statement of what you hope to achieve, whether that’s sponsorship for a specific program, funds to reach a specific monetary goal, or volunteers to support your work. Think Shark Tank style: “My name is Jim, and I’m seeking $2,000 to sponsor academic scholarships for children of drug addicts.”

3. Make a connection with the donor.

In what way does your NPO’s mission connect to the donor’s business or goals? Find the issues where you connect and emphasize that you have shared interests. For example, “As a printing company who uses recycled materials, we know that the environment is as important to you as it is to us, which is why we’re reaching out to you today.” This puts an image of partnership in the donor’s mind.

4. Give them a vision of the “product” they are buying.

Do you run a program for disadvantaged youth? Tell your donors about what those youth grow up to become, and how their lives change for the better. Explain (briefly) how your unique approach helps them to achieve that, and how the donor’s contribution will further that mission. Give specific examples of the kinds of materials their funds will pay for, from everything to paperclips and pencils to facility management, and what those things mean for the organization in the long-term. The more specific you are, the more trustworthy you appear to your potential donors.

5. Make the next step easy.

Now that you’ve got your donor ready to act, the last thing you want to do is to make them jump through hoops to get the money to you. Donation page sites like ProcessDonation make this step easy, as you can simply include a link to your donation page in the text of the email. A few clicks is all it will take to convert your compelling email into a tidy donation for your organization.

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