Do you email donors to set up solicitation meetings?
Honestly, email is a great way to connect. It’s immediate. It’s easy for the donor to respond. And, of course, it’s convenient for the solicitor, too.
But the key is to write your emails so they are most likely to succeed.
4 Tips When Emailing Donors for Campaign Solicitations
Here are four tips that will help you make your scheduling emails more effective.
1. Use a strong subject line.
First, and most important — write a subject line that your donor is likely to open.
So what makes a good subject line? A subject line directed to an individual you know (rather than a group), a good subject line should be personal.
Consider these examples:
- Bob, you’ve been amazing
- Do you have time to connect next week?
- I’ve got a good story for you, Bob
- I’m hoping to connect with you on Thursday
Sending an email to someone who has been a long-time supporter might warrant the first option. And really, if someone you knew sent you an email with that subject line, wouldn’t you open it?
Of course, if you use that subject line, the email will have to begin with something real and specific about the donor and her giving to your organization. You can’t use empty click-bait or the purpose is lost.
2. Write your email with the donor in mind.
Every email should pass the YOU test.
Years ago, my friend, Tom Ahern, who is a guru of nonprofit communications, taught me to count the number of “you’s” in my correspondence with donors. Effective donor communication has twice as many “you” words as “we” words. You’ll find an easy way to check your drafts by using the Ahern Audit on Bloomerang.
At first, you may find it difficult to shift your perspective to the donor instead of yourself and your organization. But when you practice rewriting sentences for a while it will become easier and your emails will be far more effective.
3. Put the most important business at the beginning of the email.
Many — even most people — don’t read emails carefully. They scan the first couple of lines to find out the gist and then chances are very good that they won’t even get all the way to the bottom.
So, start with the business at hand:
Do you have time to get together (virtually or in person) next Thursday afternoon? I’d like to tell you about our building project and ask you to consider a gift to the campaign.
4. Be explicit about the purpose of the meeting.
If you plan to ask your donor for a gift, let them know.
I’m sure you will worry that the donor might decline the meeting if she knows that’s what you are going to do. And, of course, that’s possible.
But think about it this way… if someone really doesn’t want to make a gift, then you don’t want to waste your time with them. And you certainly don’t want to lead them to believe you are going to talk about one thing and then surprise them with something else.
So have the courage of your convictions. Your request for a meeting is likely to be accepted if you can highlight in your email the things about that donor that predispose them to your organization. (See the second tip above about writing about the donor rather than your organization.)
Do you have subject lines or email suggestions you’ve found to be effective? If so, please share them in the comments below.