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Are you missing a trick by not email fundraising?

Published: 14/08/20 | Categories: Funding, Author: Rosie Cribb

Catalyst Cymru: Resilient Heritage coach Rosie Cribb shares her top tips for small charities to make the most out of individual giving through email fundraising.

It is a commonly held belief that individual giving is the sole domain of large charities that have the budget and capacity to design, resource and administer powerful and high-quality fundraising campaigns.

However, an interesting fact is that email fundraising (seeking donations by sending an email to your supporters or potential supporters) has the highest return on investment of any digital form of fundraising. and is responsible for about 1/3 of non-profit organisations’ online fundraising revenue.

With 72% of charity contributions made by individuals (source, the approach of encouraging individual donations is an area overlooked by many small charities across the UK who feel it is ‘not for them’.

Perhaps it feels like too big a mountain to climb, or that it could not be done properly with such limited resources. Often enough, in our experience, its simply not seen as a priority.

However, it would not take a small charity much to test the water and dip their toe into this area of fundraising. Reflecting on the last two years of first Brexit and now Covid-19, it feels like there is a stronger sense of community and localism than ever- maybe now is the time to tap into the potential of localised individual giving?

Read on for a simple individual giving strategy for a small and poorly resourced charity.

Get set up to receive online donations

First, integrate an online donation function into your website (there are many companies that provide this merchant service, most taking a small commission).

Some examples are and

Keep it simple – make sure that the donation route is simple to navigate, with a clear call for action that takes you directly to the donation page.

It is useful to suggest donation amounts linked to your charity’s activities, e.g. £50 will pay for 5 older and isolated people to attend a luncheon club.

Top Non-Profits have these top tips for creating effective donation pages.

Create compelling content

Consider how you will drive potential donors to your donation page. Video content is fast becoming the most effective means of engagement, and this doesn’t necessarily need to be expensive to produce.

Consider how you can make inhouse video content about your work. iPhones can produce high quality films – just keep them short and compelling.

There are also multiple software packages to help you edit your films to make them look sharp and professional. or even the free ‘iMovie’ app can considerably enhance and improve your films, and both are free.

Make sure you have a compelling call to action message- tell people about the impact of your work, the difference it is making and create an emotional connection with the reader/viewer.

The website features freelance designers, film makers and copywriters from all over the world that can edit your films, or make animated professional films at very low cost.

If you feel that generating video is beyond your reach at the moment, write a compelling email including feedback from your beneficiaries and photographs of your work.

Explain your need and if necessary or appropriate don’t be afraid to use a sense of jeopardy- what will happen if people do not donate?

Develop a mailing list

Make sure you are collecting email addresses on a continual basis from people that use your service.

All stakeholders are potential donors- families and friends of beneficiaries, partner organisations, local communities, users of your services, suppliers, or maybe people you have never met but have an interest in your cause.

Yes, GDPR rules make it more complicated than it used to be, and you will need to make sure that you are complying with GDPR in any of your communications, so make sure that you have a strategy for GDPR compliance that underpins your saving of data and communications.

Build relationships

Different ways of inviting people to join your mailing list could include:

  • sign up forms in your premises or at events
  • having a sign-up function on your website
  • using your Facebook page to ask people to sign up

GDPR compliant collection of email addresses can be one of your most valuable commodities in terms of fundraising, creating ‘warm’ potential donors with whom you can begin to build a relationship.

Rosie Cribb is the founder of Funding Assist, Third Sector Fundraising Consultancy @FundingAssist