How to make your emails more relevant to your donors


I wrote the following earlier this year, but it was hidden at the bottom of a long post…

More relevant emails → higher open rates

Higher open rates → more people reading your fundraising

More people reading your fundraising → more people giving

More people giving → more mission work done!

So what does “more relevant” mean?

In general, here’s what we’ve found:

  • More relevant = emails about a beneficiary, or about the donor (either what their past giving has done or their future giving will do)
  • Less relevant = emails about your organization (your programs / process / staff / partners / organizational calendar)

Of course there are edge cases. And of course you can (and should) send out emails about upcoming events and big announcements.

But it all comes back to this truth. There are three “characters” in every piece of fundraising you ever send out:

  • The organization
  • The beneficiaries or cause
  • The donor

Your donors, in the context of direct response fundraising, tend to be much more interested in beneficiaries / the cause and in themselves than they are in your organization.

So if your email open rates aren’t what you think they should be, focus more of your emails (the subject lines, the content, the calls to action) on your donors and beneficiaries.