Writing for Email: How to Craft Effective Copy for Fundraising Campaigns

Writing a fundraising letter can be one of the most interesting kinds of copy to set about writing. It’s far different than any other form of content, and there’s a knack you need to have in order to communicate your message effectively.

Fortunately, there are several tricks and tips that should be remembered throughout the writing process in order to produce the best results. If you’re planning your next fundraising email campaign and you’re preparing to write the copy, here are seven important points you’ll want to consider.

 

#1 – Be Donor-Centric Throughout Your Content

The first thing you’ll want to consider when it comes to writing your copy is making sure you’re speaking directly to your reader and to the donator. It’s easy to get caught up speaking in a third-party manner or ‘having your reader drop in,’ but this isn’t going to result in many donations.

To help focus your attention on your readers, be sure to use the word ‘you’ as much as possible, saying things like ‘you can make a difference today,’ and ‘organizations like us rely on you.’ Be sure to say ‘thank you’ at the end and ask your readers to ‘join you’ in addressing your cause.

 

#2 – Keep Everything Simple

This is perhaps the most important point you’ll want to consider. If you’re bombarding your readers with information, lots of jargon or overwhelming them with facts, they’re not going to want to donate and will probably just delete your email.

Make sure you’re keeping everything as simple and as concise as possible while you’re writing. There’s no need to use large, complicated words that will lose people. The best thing to remember here is to imagine you’re talking to a relative or friend.

 

#3 – Be Personal

Thanks to the advantages of automated email and data collection, you should have the names of the people you’re contacting. Use this in your email and address the readers by their first names; while making sure you keep everything friendly and informal. The more personal the email, the more likely the reader will connect to your message.

 

#4 – Storytelling is a Powerful Medium

Let’s say you’re fundraising for a poverty cause. By detailing statistics on poverty and general facts, people get an idea of what is happening, but this can still feel rather impersonal. Instead, telling stories through specific case studies is the best way to connect with your readers.

“You can highlight the story of one individual or a family within your email, helping the readers to connect and resonate with the person emotionally, ultimately resulting in them becoming more likely to make a donation” explains Nick Harper, a communication manager at EliteAssignmentHelp and Study demic.

 

#5 – Avoid Errors in Your Content

If you were reading through a fundraising email that was full of mistakes and typos, would you still be willing to donate money to this cause? Probably not. When writing and finalizing your content, be sure to address any errors in your copy to ensure it’s perfect. Here are some tools that can help;

    • StateofWriting / Via Writing – Use these online copywriting guides to structure and write high-quality email content.
    • UK Writings – This is an online editing tool to help you format and improve the quality of your email content.
    • Academ advisor / Boom Essays – When formatting your email content, use these online tools to ensure it’s done in a professional manner.
    • My Writing Way / Essay Roo – Use these online grammar checkers to check and correct any errors in your grammar.
    • Writing Populist – Use this powerful online tool for generating eye-catching headers, subject lines, and subheadings or your email.
    • Paper Fellows – This is a leading email copywriting and proofreading tool to help you write your emails from start to finish, as reviewed by Revieweal.

 

#6 – Avoid Talking About Your Organization

Although in reality, it’s going to be your organization that will be making the changes in the world, it’s the funds of the people donating that will make it possible, and the donors want to know that they’re doing their part.

When writing your content, make sure you’re placing the donator at the heart of the campaign, and say that the whole project is reliant on their action. Make them the hero of the campaign, and they’ll be far more likely to donate to your cause.

 

#7 – Be Specific to your Requests

This is vital to remember. You can ask people to broadly donate or hint at the idea of donating to help you raise funds but can dramatically backfire because people won’t know what they’re doing. Like all areas of business, your call to action needs to be specific and direct.

“Detail how much money you need for your cause and what the money is going to go towards. Don’t be afraid to ask for a specific amount from each person”, – shares Lukas Jackson, an email strategist for Academized.

 

Summary

As you can see, there are plenty of things to think about when it comes to writing an effective fundraising email. Keep all these points in mind, and you’re sure to boost your fundraising effects and hit the targets you’ve set out to achieve.

 


Author’s bio:

Freddie Tubbs is a communication manager at Bigassignments. He also works as a part-time business writer at Australian help, and contributes article to the Vualt and Oxessays blogs.

 

 

Get creative for board fundraising engagement

For those of us who have served on arts boards, or have been staff in an organization with a board, we all know the typical responses to the idea of fundraising: fear, rejection, refusal, discomfort… Yet your board’s primary responsibilities to the organization are fiscal oversight and making deeper connections into the community that include contacts with deep pockets.

So how do you get your board engaged in fundraising without running up against a wall of refusal, or worse yet, setting up for failure?

One creative way is to tap their contacts without them feeling pushed to cold call for donations. Consider creating a list of businesses in your area that are currently NOT supporters of the organization.  Group them into business categories and put them on big paper sheets that you can tape around the room.  At the board meeting, put up the lists and give each board member a sheet of colored dots, recording who got what color.  Then ask your board to take 10 minutes and put a colored dot next to every business that they have any association with… a contact, have done business there, family connection, etc.  At some point, have them detail for you the specific contact name and title for you to write to.  Once done, you’ll have a list of board contacts at these businesses.

Now, have your staff prepare introductory letters written from the board member to the contact at the business that they know, explaining that they are on the board of this arts organization and how they value the work it does and its contribution to the local economy, education and more.  When completed, contact the board member to stop by the office and sign the letters, adding a short personal note if they wish.  Then send the letters.

About a week later, the board member should call those contacts to verify they received the letter and invite them to come see a show at your venue.  Give them a couple comp tickets and the board member should followup after to see if they’d be interested in supporting the organization, as they do, through a sponsorship, a donation, a company volunteer program or other possibilities.

So, during this process, you have helped that board member through the beginnings of making connections with potential donor businesses and made in roads with personal connections.  Hopefully the result will be increased business contributions and support.

This is just one idea for board fundraising engagement.  Obviously the possibilities are endless.  Build on this idea for other possible ways to utilize their support.  And remember, every board member should be a donor as well.  They should be giving at a level that is significant to them and their budget.  No one can comfortably explain their investment in your organization if they aren’t actually investing in it themselves.

DID YOU KNOW? Automated emails should be branded and recognizable

When you send a brochure, letter, postcard, you’re certain to pay attention to the look of that item, ensuring that it is branded and recognizable at a glance as coming from your organization, representing your style and professionalism.

Email communications should be the same… even if sent from your automated systems.

The Arts People system sends out notices and reminders to patrons automatically, when they make a purchase or donation, schedule a reservation, when their membership is coming due for renewal, reminding them of their upcoming performance, and more.  These emails are important for good customer service and communication with your patrons. They instill confidence and build loyalty among your customers and ultimately can help you to build on relationships to step those patrons up the ladder from ticket buyer to subscriber to donor and more.

Of course, these emails only have these benefits if they look professional and solidify your brand in the recipient’s mind.

In Arts People, all of these emails are customizable, allowing you to tailor the language to your typical tone of voice, using terminology that your patrons are accustomed to, with your logo and styling to reflect your brand.  Easy to configure, or with assistance from our friendly Client Services staff, you can make great impressions with your patrons through all your communication, even automated confirmations and reminders.

To learn more about the Arts People system and how it can help your organization in many ways, CONTACT US, or visit our website for more details.

How will performing arts charities weather the new tax plan?

Tax PlanningThe new tax plan from Donald Trump and the GOP has drastically changed the landscape for fundraisers in charity arts organizations.  By altering the standard deduction, supposedly in an effort to make individuals tax preparation much simpler, it has also created a new paradigm that does not well encourage individuals to make donations that they can later write off on their taxes.  Here’s why.

In the past, by making donations to charitable organizations, an individual was able to deduct those donations from their taxable income thereby lowering their tax liability overall at the federal and often state level.  So if you donated $500 to charity, you would remove $500 from your taxable income and then the portion of that that you would have paid to taxes as income was removed.  This was a large contributing factor encouraging the giving of money to charities that you support.

Now, with the standard deduction being much higher, it creates far less need to itemize deductions for most individuals on their tax return. Instead they can just take the standard deduction without having to have made any itemizable payments, such as those to charities.  Only in the event of a relatively high level of income will an individual or family need to itemize on their tax return.  Due to this there is far less incentive to come up with tax-deductible expenses in order to reduce tax liability.

This could mean that many individuals may choose not to contribute to charities and instead keep that money for themselves, since they’ll get the standard tax deduction anyway.  Without tax deductibility being an encouraging factor in donating, what will be the new strategy for charities, including performing arts organizations, to encourage donations?

Alternatively, could the increased standard deduction put some more money in the pockets of donors who want to support you, and lead to increased giving?  This article seems to think so.

Hopefully many donors will want to financially support the work that you do despite this change.  It remains the strongest reason a person may choose to donate. They love what you do.  They want to support your work. If you can also make especially clear that your organization cannot survive without contributed income, and not only on earned income from things like ticket sales and education program fees alone, you can help them to understand why their donations are critical to your survival.

Granting organizations and corporate support will play an even more important role with the sizable risk of individual giving declining.  However, their income sources could be affected also by the new tax plan.  The down line support that they provide could change as the effects ripple out over time, and of course now there is talk of Trump wanting to cut funding to the NEA and other arts and humanities funders.

Increased prices may be required as well.  If an arts organization has survived on a balance of 50% earned income from sales with a 50% contributed income level to balance the budget, the percentage balance may need to shift to higher on the earned income side.  Of course depending on your patrons, this could reduce sales as prices are increased resulting in bigger problems in the end.

What does YOUR organization plan to do in this shaky and changing fundraising environment?  How will your message shift?  What combination of tactics do you feel are needed or are planned to maintain your bottom line?

Patrick Spike - Marketing Director of Arts PeoplePatrick Spike – Marketing Director, Arts People

Arts organization consultant
Former Board Member Portland Area Theatre Alliance
Former Audience Development Director & Board Member Bag&Baggage Productions

Boosting Corporate Philanthropy Through Digital Fundraising

Digital fundraising makes it possible for anyone to donate from anywhere with an internet connection — which also makes soliciting donations a more competitive field. Organizations supporting worthy causes pull donors from all angles.

Maybe it’s time to get more creative with your digital fundraising by exploring ways to supplement your traditional donations.

How about local businesses? You might already secure sponsorships for certain shows or offer corporate gift certificate options, but there’s a whole world of corporate philanthropy waiting in the digital fundraising space.

In this post, we’ll focus on four smart ways to increase your revenue from corporate philanthropy through your digital fundraising strategy:

  1. Get smart with your donor database.
  2. Promote matched donations at checkout.
  3. Optimize your confirmation messages.
  4. Get attention on social media.

If you’re ready to tap into the gift of corporate philanthropy, keep reading!

 

 1. Get smart with your donor database.

As any fundraising institution knows, a donation solicitation is only as effective as it is targeted. That is, when asking for donations, the more about your donors you know, the better your chances are of receiving a check in return.

When narrowing in on your corporate philanthropy efforts, a comprehensive donor database is your secret weapon. Here are the key data points to include in your donor profiles:

  • Employer: Some companies are more charitable than others. If a donor’s employer offers a corporate matching gift program or regularly donates to nonprofits, you now have a connection to that source of revenue through your donor.
  • Job title: C-level employees, business owners, and board members all have a say in their company’s charitable giving philosophy. If your donor cares about your organization, so will their business.
  • Past giving: Whether to your organization or others, past giving is a great indication of future giving. Previous involvement in corporate philanthropy, from matching gift requests to group volunteering, is important to have on record.

Once you’ve identified donors with key corporate connections, it’s time to reach out to them. Your CRM or communication software should allow you to segment and sort your donor lists based on employment information.

Make sure to reference the specifics of the corporate philanthropy or sponsorship programs you’re asking donors to participate in, linking them to resources or databases if necessary.

This business-related information doesn’t just help you identify donors with connections to corporate giving programs — it can also help your message actually make it to the person you want it to.

People are much more likely to respond to emails, phone calls, or requests for in-person meetings from people they already know, particularly business owners that often receive requests for corporate-related charitable giving. Keeping historical employment information can reveal profitable connections between prospective major donors and current donors.

Of course, this level of targeting relies on a clean, accurate donor database. You can’t reach out to donors encouraging them to participate in their employer’s corporate matching gift program if you don’t know whether they work for a company that offers one!

 

2. Promote matched donations at checkout.

Your donor database is one place to look for corporate giving revenue, but it’s not the only place. What about those donors who aren’t in your database yet?

At a basic level, you should always post information about matching gifts, sponsorships, and other corporate philanthropy programs publicly on your website. Linking to this information on your social media pages is another way to ensure it has a wide reach.

But one of the best places to feature corporate philanthropy information is at checkout.

Think about it: patrons who are actively buying a ticket are obviously interested in supporting your organization. Why not show them another way they can do so?

Here are a few creative ways to work matching gifts into your checkout process:

  • Install a matching gift database plugin so shoppers can interactively search their employer’s corporate giving program in real time.
  • During the end-of-year holidays, emphasize the charitable spirit and the way to make a donation go further than usual (and the tax benefits of charitable giving).
  • Encourage the giving of gift donations.

By placing this information right at checkout, you encourage giving at the moment that your supporters are most excited about.

If you need a little help setting up a website that offers attractive sponsorship opportunities to companies, check out Double the Donation’s guide to the top nonprofit website design companies for recommendations.

Remember that online checkout doesn’t always happen at home! Make sure your checkout forms are mobile-optimized so they display properly on your patrons’ mobile phones and any POS stations your staff members use to sell tickets or memberships on the floor.

 

3. Optimize your confirmation messages.

Whether a patron reserves a ticket, purchases a t-shirt, or makes a donation, your system will automatically deliver a copy of their receipt to their email inbox.

With the ability to customize those automatic emails comes an incredible opportunity to encourage participation in corporate philanthropy programs!

Check out how the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation incorporated matching gift information into their donation confirmation email:

The great thing about a confirmation message is its timing. Right after a purchase or a donation, the recipient is excited about what’s to come, and they’ll be looking for the confirmation email.

Corporate philanthropy makes gifts go further at no extra cost to the donor. That’s the kind of message that a supporter is receptive to right after spending or donating some of their own money.

Something important to keep in mind when including a solicitation in a confirmation email is tone. The first thing you should say no matter what comes afterward is “thank you.” From there, it’s all about a clean, quick transition.

That transition will depend greatly on the kind of message you’re appending to the “thank you.” If you need a little inspiration, here are a few tips for a few common confirmation email types:

  • Ticket reservation: “Before you arrive, take a look and see if your employer would match a donation to the theater!”
  • Merchandise purchase: “Did you know you could support the theater with a donation, and your employer might even match the amount? Follow this link to our corporate giving page for more information!”
  • Donation confirmation: “Before you forget, save a copy of your receipt for taxes, and request a matching gift form from your employer. Not sure if your employer offers a corporate giving program? Find out by typing your company name into the plugin below!”
  • Volunteer application: “Does your employer offer volunteer grants? Find out and learn more below!”
  • Special event registration: “Check up on your employer’s corporate giving status before you show up!”
  • Membership program sign-up: “What if your employer could match your commitment to the theater? See if your donations are eligible to be matched using the corporate giving database plugin in this email!”

If you need a little more guidance, start with these useful templates from Fundraising Letters, then personalize to your organization!

 

4. Get attention on social media.

We’ve already covered the benefits of spreading the word about corporate philanthropy on social media. But it’s not always individual donors whose attention you’re trying to get.

In fact, corporate social media accounts are always interested in the good publicity that comes along with partnering with a charitable cause.

If you look at it that way, your social media presence is actually a bargaining chip for corporate partnerships. Look at what you have to offer:

  • Sponsored shows: For the most traditional type of corporate sponsorship, a business covers some or all of the cost of a show or exhibit in exchange for their logo on your marketing materials, including social media profiles.
  • Social takeover: A social media representative from the sponsoring company “takes over” your social media for a day, sharing stories and pictures to your audience from their perspective.
  • Fundraising events: Companies can sponsor fundraising events, either by helping with setup costs or donating auction items for specialized events like online charity auctions.
  • Employee volunteers: Employees from a corporate sponsor can man the box office, hand out programs, escort visitors to their seats, and sell merchandise. Pictures of employees helping out while wearing branded shirts are easy to share on social media.
  • Charity packages: Want to open up to low-income families for a night for free or a reduced rate? You need someone to cover the costs, and a corporation has the incentive to fund this kind of charitable cause.

As a beloved institution in your community, you have an engaged audience that companies would love access to. Use that access to your advantage!

Asking for donations over and over can exhaust even your most loyal supporters. But corporate philanthropy doesn’t require your donors to dip back into their own pockets to support the institutions they love.

By promoting corporate philanthropy across your digital space, you can actualize your supporters’ charitable spirit at no more cost to them!

 


Our thanks to Adam Weinger for sharing this special blog post.

Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of tools to nonprofits to help them raise more money from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs. Connect with Adam via email or on LinkedIn.

White Paper – Create a powerful and efficient Volunteer workforce

Non-profit organizations, certainly including performing arts groups, rely heavily on a well organized and satisfied volunteer workforce. In many cases, running that portion of your operation should be given as much importance and attention as management of the staff, since often they do just as much work overall. The success of your volunteer coordination starts at the top and works its way down.

In this white paper we’ll walk you through a recognized structure to your volunteer workforce that will help ensure that your volunteers are honored, happy, and managed in a way that benefits both them and your organization.

Request a download link for this white paper:

Note that you will have 10 minutes to download your requested document from the email received.

—-

White paper written by

Patrick Spike - Marketing Director of Arts PeoplePatrick Spike is the Marketing Director, system expert, and one of the original architects of the Arts People software system, with over 30 years in performing arts creation and administration. His work with clients has helped them to increase their revenue while streamlining their box office and back office operations. www.patrickspike.com

Arts People, software for the performing arts, serves theatres, music and dance groups, choirs and opera, high school, college and university programs, performing arts center facilities and more.

 

Make Giving Tuesday count for your chosen charities

Giving Tuesday has become a very real “thing” along with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This is a day where we emphasize the need to give to the charity organizations that matter to each of us.

The fact that most charities rely heavily on individual giving from people like you and me, along with grants, corporate sponsorship, and in the case of performing arts, ticket and other sales, can be seen as a wonderful thing. If we think about it, it’s easy to recognize how this benefits our community. The deep connections forged between the charity organizations and the individuals within the community helps lift up those charities that community members really believe in. Not unlike a business succeeding because its products or services are loved, a charity that survives well based on the support of its community is a testament to the great work that charity is doing FOR its community. If the people didn’t believe in its mission and its methods, it simply wouldn’t survive.

So as we focus at this time on our gratitude for all the things that touch and enrich our lives, let’s remember and be thankful for the charities that do great work. Some are benevolent. Some are creative. They bring happiness, support, relief, joy, comfort and are worthy of our gifts too. Choose the charities that you believe in most and give as much as you can to support the work that they do. It takes us all to make a rich and caring community. We must support each other all we can.

The Arts People system charges no fees for use of its donation processing and tracking system, along with membership functionality. Only standard credit card processing rates apply. Donation options can easily be featured on your website, Facebook page, in email messages and more. Contact your support rep for any assistance in launching your web page or other fundraising campaigns, or contact us for a free demo of the system. We’d be happy to speak with you.

Up-sell gift and donation options at your holiday show

Strike while the iron is hot, as my mother used to say to me.  Take the opportunity when it presents itself!  We all know that the holiday time is when many performing arts organizations make their most ticket sales and donation transactions.  It’s the season of giving!  (…and shopping for giving, and donating, and stressing over the perfect gift.)

So how can we maximize our patron interactions to boost our holiday income opportunities AND also help them to reduce the stress of holiday gift giving.

Easy!

Take the opportunity while guests are at your venue, enjoying the holiday presentation, to sell them on some simple gift giving ideas via your organization, WHILE THEY ARE THERE!  If you send out an email reminder of their upcoming performance, mention in it that special gift offers will be available as well!  Here’s some ideas:

Create some holiday gift and donation opportunities that provide benefits and discounts:

  1. Create a holiday gift pass or package of shows that you offer to attendees at the theatre at an extra special discount, but ONLY if they buy it that night during intermission.
  2. Offer gift certificates.
  3. Offer a holiday donation option that provides some special incentives such as a pair of free wildcard tickets for any upcoming show of the season.  The patron can donate, support your organization, get an end of year tax write off, AND they get a pair of tickets for themselves or to use as a gift.
  4. Create stylish and fun t-shirts or other branded goods from your organization or that tie into your season to offer at special pricing if purchased that night.

With all the above opportunities, you want to emphasize how they can make the buyer’s life easier by getting some holiday shopping out of the way. Remind them how much fun they have at your performances and what could be better than giving that type of enjoyment to others.  Remind them how a donation at the end of the year helps support your organization and can be deducted off their upcoming taxes. And lastly, it’s critical to promote these things during your well presented curtain speech communicating that these special offers are available only if they do their transaction during intermission.  Have people waiting in the lobby to help the guests with their orders.

Have a great holiday season of sales and fundraising!


The Arts People system provides tools to easily setup and manage all the above efforts including full pass and package functionality, online pass and gift certificate redemption over multiple orders, donation tracking, membership details and automated discounts, even automated emailed ticket reminders that you can customize as you wish.  Contact us at sales@arts-people.com if you’d like more information or a free personal demo.

Your performances – gifts for your business partner’s employees

It’s the giving season again, and there’s another way your business partners and sponsor organizations can support you!

Gift Certificates, and gift passes!

Talk to those businesses and organizations who already support you and share with them a great way to provide a holiday bonus gift to their employees… the gift of an experience with their spouse or entire family.

The organization can purchase gift certificates in any amount they wish to give to each employee.  The employee can then use that amount toward any ticket purchase of their choice of show or event that you offer.

Passes can work similarly, if you have a pass that’s valid for the remaining shows of your season.  The organization can purchase them in any quantity to provide tickets to their choice of upcoming shows.

The financial purchase helps support your organization, AND it may result in more people discovering your organization to come back in the future as a loyal patron.  Once you have a number of organizations are on board, then you can promote it to other businesses that you’ve been hoping to connect with, telling them of other businesses that are taking advantage already.

The Arts People system offers both gift certificate and pass functionality where any unredeemed portion remains in the system to be used later. It makes it tremendously easy for the person to use and enjoy their gift.

The holidays are not just about giving, but also about support, encouragement, joy.  These gift options help to foster all three.  Give it a try!

Added income and revenue - get creative

Generate extra income in creative ways

As a performing arts organization, we know that balancing income and expenses can be a tricky thing.  Generating income also generally must fall into methods in line with your non-profit published mission in order to avoid any scrutiny from the IRS and the public.  But there may just be ways to add a chunk of extra income to your bottom line using methods that are easily within reach.

For those considering the Arts People system for their ticketing, fundraising, marketing, database/CRM needs, the low costs of our system can often be offset by these means!

We’re creative people… let’s get to it!

Here’s some ideas:

  1. In selling your season package, have you considered that adding just an extra 25 or 50 package sales might bring in an extra $5000-10000 annually.  Get your board involved, encourage your patrons to help you promote the packages, hold an annual season announcement event with a super special discount for attendees and get it done!
  2. Add options for season packages.  If you currently sell a traditional subscription package, consider adding flex passes for more patron options and see how it increases your package sales.  You could possibly add an additional $2500-5000 through this method.
  3. The print at home ticket design of the Arts People system allows you to customize the layout.  Consider selling space on the ticket for a local business to print a coupon, or a sponsorship logo.  This can be done creatively on a show by show basis, or for the entire season for more money, or both!  Charge for that space and bring in an extra $2500-5000 or more annually.
  4. If you’re not booking sponsors of each production, you should.  Exclusive single sponsor, or a few sponsors together for each show could bring in $15000 a year.
  5. What about a sponsorship specifically for your online buying experience.  Sell an online season sponsorship and place the sponsor logo with a link to their business info on your Arts People customize-able public pages for an annual amount of $3000-4000.  “Online transactions brought to you by….”  Businesses love this type of exposure.  You could do smaller levels of this also by having individual sponsors of the different transaction types… tickets, donations, membership, retail, passes, subscriptions, class enrollment, etc. Each path in the Arts People system has system messages where sponsor info credit could be displayed. Additionally, the confirmation emails can also be customized with text and images!
  6. Make sure you’re asking ticket buyers online to add a donation.  The checkout screen has a customize-able area for a donation pitch. Use it!  Encourage ticket buyers to add a small donation to their ticket purchase and bring in an extra $1000-2000 a year.

The above methods, if all successful, total between$29000 and $41000 yearly.  Think that would help the bottom line?  Get creative with your options and see the bottom line come up!  This, along with added sales due to the easy to use online purchase process of the Arts People system, and you’ll find it can actually make you money, and be completely paid for in the process.