Using Email to Drive Donations


Everyone has written an email, but not everyone has written an email asking for donations. With email opening rates at around 15%, it is difficult to get people reading your email, let alone donating to your cause.

With email blasts proving to be the most effective method for driving ticket sales, we want you to write an email that can turn your list into donations.

Don't have an email list? We can help with that too - check out our post 'How to Build an Email List'

Email Anatomy 101.


The subject line will tell you what the email is about and what you can expect inside. The trick is making it intriguing enough that your receiver will open the message to find out more.


The headline will be found within the email and will be the first sentence of copy shown. After they have opened the email, it is all about sucking them in so they continue to read.


Tell them everything they need to know in the first paragraph. The average person only spends 10-15 seconds on each email they read, so it is imperative that you tell them the important information right at the beginning.


This is comprised of the short phrases and subheadings that decorate an email (sometimes referred to as copy). They should be used to highlight your main points and make it easy to scan through the text. It includes headings, subheadings, links, quotes, statistics, and buttons.


Write body paragraphs to be short and to-the-point.  Organize them in a way that tells a story and engages the reader.

  • Tell a story. This may be a challenge to include while keeping concise, but it can be done. All you have to have is a beginning, middle, and end; featuring something that is emotionally charged to compel readers to support your cause financially. It can outline the cause or a success story, whichever suits your organization's ask.
  • Write short body paragraphs. Craft the body of your email in short, to-the-point paragraphs. Reading block text (especially on a cell phone) can be overwhelming and cause your readers to close and delete your email. The rule of thumb is typically not to go beyond 4 lines for a single paragraph.


  • Visuals have become an important part of creating an effective email. As you are directing traffic to donate, it is key to match your email with the design, visual, and messaging elements of your landing page.
  • The use of images can be a very powerful tool to appeal to both the hearts and minds of your supporters.

Call to Action:

  • Make your call to action very clear and tangible. The ask should be large enough to make an impact, but not too big that it's overwhelming.
  • Make it easy as possible for your supporters to donate. Sending them through hoops and links will potentially lose their eyes along the way.
  • The action buttons can be added to main body text, sidebars, and in the footer.


  • If you have a large email list, consider using A/B Testing to evaluate which email performs better. Each email could have slight differences; from what image is used, what story is told, or how you ask for the donations. When you discover which draft is providing higher donations, use that one for the rest of your lists.
  • Most professionals would recommend between 180 and 250 words at most for fundraising emails
  • Include your offline contact information as a donation option as well.
  • Keep the tone more casual and easier to read than you would a letter or an e-newsletter.
  • Include a sign-up option to subscribe for additional emails


When sharing a raffle link with your email list, you can apply these same principles.

Would an email template help? Let us know!

Resourcesnicole roach