Reporting Email ‘Template’

Report email.

Today I’m sharing a simple tool to stay in touch with your donors… an e-story.

What’s an e-story?  It’s a reporting email for donors that’s short, simple, personal, and story-forward – written as though you couldn’t wait to share a story of success with a special donor.

I challenge you to write an e-story (maybe right now?!) and share it with your donors this summer!

Here’s the big idea: the email shares one story of success, one person your organization helped or one thing your organization accomplished.

And here’s a template (I guess it’s more of an outline) to get you started!

Dear <First Name>,

[Donor-focused gratitude statement – thank the donor for helping cause the outcomes of your organization’s work]

[Summary of problem donor helped to solve for one person or thing]

[Introduce story]

[“Before and after” story about a specific beneficiary. It should describe the “before” (what was happening that help was needed) and then describe the positive “after” that your work and the donor’s gift made possible.]

[Statement that makes it clear that the transformation from the “before” to the “after” would not have happened without the donor’s generosity]

[Warm, emotional closing thank you statement]


The whole thing is usually around 250 or 300 words.  This keeps it short and easy to read.

Sending an e-story to your donors this summer will ensure you don’t “go dark” on your donors.  And your donor will feel great knowing the incredible difference they made possible!

Fundraising in the 2024 Election Year – The Summer Slump


Our previous post was about what to do to raise money during the Noisy Spring of a presidential election year

Today let’s talk about how you can make it through The Summer Slump (July – August).

And remember – if you make this year’s fundraising plan based on what’s worked best in previous presidential election years, this COULD be one of your best fundraising years since the pandemic.

The Summer Slump

So… you already know that fundraising tends to slow a bit during the summer months.

But that slowdown will in all likelihood be larger this year because of the intensity of election coverage.

Donors of will see-saw back and forth between being captivated by the news… and tuning it all out.

The most important thing you can do during these summer months is stay in touch with your donors. Resist the temptation to “go dark” and not communicate with them.

Here’s your action plan for mitigating The Summer Slump:

  1. Maintain regular communications with your donors through the summer. Be top of mind for them. Unless your organization has a history of successful fundraising in July, we recommend sharing good news (success stories!) with your donors during this month – newsletters, e-stories, impact reports. For major donors, deliver these stories in face-to-face meetings.
  2. Share memorable and fun experiences with your donors. Your donors are doing the same things you are during the summer – having BBQs, enjoying the outdoors, spending time with people they care about. So leverage the season and host fun gatherings for donors. Host a community BBQ to say thanks to your donors or volunteers. Play golf with your top donor or go to a baseball game with them.
  3. Plan a fundraising campaign for the end of August. If your organization does anything in or around schools, send a back-to-school appeal or e-appeal. There will be a brief window toward the end of summer where your donor’s attention is not on politics but on getting back into the swing of things for the fall. This is a great opportunity to be in front of them to raise money for the work of your organization this fall.
  4. Use the quieter summer months to plan and prepare your year-end fundraising campaign. Secure your matching funds now. Write your year-end appeals now. Don’t forget: the political campaigns will take up YOUR attention as well. So use this time to plan and create: plan your approach for each major donor and schedule your end-of-year meetings with them for right after the election, and create the fundraising materials you’ll need for the end-of-the-year dash.

Summer is a great time to share some fun and positive moments with your donors.  Don’t forget to take a breath yourself and do some preparation for the next phase… The Election Storm.

Read this series of blog posts:

Lazy Summer Days – Are You Making the Mistake of Resting Your Donors?

Beach rest vacation.

In these last few summer days, I’m bringing you an important message.

Picture me, sitting in a beach chair. I’m relaxed. I’m on vacation. I am lulled into thinking the whole world is on vacation, including donors. Fundraising? Nah. Not a good time.

Danger! Danger!

This time of year, it can be so tempting to be lulled into the kind of thinking that causes you to raise less money. It’s the lazy last days of summer.

Donors need a rest from fundraising, right?


A couple years ago I was listening to Better Fundraising co-founder Steven Screen as he spoke at the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference.

Steven shared this little gem, which has haunted me ever since:

“When you rest your donors, they can forget how to give to your organization.”


Thanks, Steven.

Here’s the reality of these lazy summer days.

SOME of your donors are checked out at the end of summer. But many donors are not checked out!

You have donors in your file right now who are ready to give, if only they knew the problem and how they could make it better. If only you would ask them to give!

And here’s the thing: other organizations are in your donor’s mailbox right now, reminding them how they can help, while you – giving these donors a rest – are slowly fading from their memory. There’s a thought to ruin a lazy beach day.

When you make the decision to rest your donors, you’re taking their choices away from them. You are deciding they won’t give… without even asking them!

Here’s something you can do today.

If your organization has a need… send your donors a fundraising email! And in next year’s calendar, pencil in an August appeal. Do not schedule a rest for your donors.

Four Simple Questions to Ask Your Organization [VIDEO]

Jim and Steven summer video questions.

Happy Summer!

This July we’re doing a mini-series of posts and videos about how to use your summer to prep for fall fundraising success.

Today we have a short (5-minute) video with Four Questions your organization should be asking itself this summer.

Your answers will tell you what to focus on this summer to have your best fall and year-end fundraising yet.

These questions are powerful.

They are designed to help organizations focus on the ‘easy wins’ – the simple fundamentals we often miss because we’re so busy – to help you spend your time and money on the things that create the biggest impact this fall.

Watch the video!

Then be honest with your answers. You’ll know what you need to focus on!