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3 Reasons People Ignore Your Fundraising Emails

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You put a lot of thought, time, and consideration into every single fundraising email you send to your list. And, when you sink so much of your blood, sweat, and tears into something, you undoubtedly want it to pay off—everyone can sympathize with that.

But, despite your hopes and best intentions, your fundraising emails keep falling flat on their face. Your open-rate is in the gutter, and you’re beginning to wonder why you invest so much energy into something that clearly isn’t working for you.

Not so fast! I know it can be frustrating to have people blatantly ignore your fundraising emails. But, before assuming that your list is full of no-good, rude people who are just out to hurt your feelings, have you stopped to consider that you might be doing something wrong?

Is it possible that some of the tactics and methods you’re employing are contributing to these less-than-desirable results?

Your nonprofit’s email strategy isn’t as easy as drafting a message and clicking send. In fact, there’s quite a bit of planning and thought that needs to go into the process—particularly if you want to see a big payoff.

So, today we’re covering three all-too-common mistakes that nonprofits make with their fundraising emails. Kick these to the curb, and you’re sure to see improvements in no time!

1. You’re Sending Too Frequently

Nobody likes to feel like they’re being spammed. So, if you’re hitting your list with daily messages, they’re going to either unsubscribe or drag your precious emails directly into the recycle bin.

Of course, you want to engage with your list enough that they remember who you are and what you do (at least once per month is recommended!). But, you don’t want to blast them with so many emails that they feel pestered and overwhelmed.

There’s no hard and fast rule for how frequently you should email, but we recommend sticking close to once per week.

Speaking of sending your messages, you’ll also want to consider when you’re sending them. Pay close attention to your email tool’s analytics to see if you can identify trends of when your emails are opened. This can help you to identify peak times when you’ll want to send your messages in the future.


Surprisingly, Saturday and Sunday see pretty high email open-rates (and Mondays and Tuesdays are the worst!). Now, this doesn’t mean you should send all of your broadcasts over the weekend. But, it’s something to keep in mind for the occasional message!

2. Your Subject Lines Could Use Some Improvement

Your fundraising email’s subject line is your first impression of your entire message, so you need it to be good.

First things first, you need to make sure that your subject is relevant to your entire email. Make it clear to your subscribers what exactly is contained in the message, so they don’t feel misled if they open the email to find something completely unexpected.

Clever and catchy subjects might be tempting—but, you’re always better off being direct.

When it comes to clarity, you’re also smart to keep your subject lines short—under 50 characters where possible. That’s generally how many characters email clients can display without getting cut off.

You’ll also want to be careful with the actual content of your subject. Something like, “URGENT: WE NEED YOUR HELP RIGHT NOW!” might instill a sense of immediacy, but it also comes off as somewhat spammy and overly promotional.

Instead, something along the lines of “5 ways you can help” is calm, direct, and promises something to the subscriber—a sense of doing something good.

3. You’re Not Narrowing Your Target

Would you talk to your grandmother the same way you talk to your best friend? Probably not. It’s human nature to change the way we communicate based on who exactly we’re talking to. So, then why are you sending the same message to everybody—from your previous donors and blog followers to your volunteers and board members?

These groups of people all have different goals, values, and reasons for interacting with your cause. So, planning to blanket them all with identical messages will simply never be effective.


This is why you need to segment—or split into distinct groups based on certain characteristics—your email list.

That way, you can tailor the way you communicate based on who exactly you’re interacting with. Even if the purpose of your message is the exact same (for example, announcing a new campaign), you’ll be able to craft it in a way that’s most relevant to your specific audience.

Be sure to read: This Overlooked Detail Is Undermining Your Nonprofit’s Emails

If you’re not seeing the results you want from your nonprofit’s email marketing efforts, it’s all too easy to think that it’s your audience’s problem. However, there are a few common mistakes that can severely hinder the impact of your emails.

Stop committing these three, and you’re sure to see an improvement in your open-rate almost immediately!

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