How to Get Your Donors to Open Your Email Newsletter

How to Get Your Donors to Open Your Email Newsletter

This week, let’s look at your email newsletters. A lot of times when we’re writing our email newsletters, and especially those subject lines, it’s like we’re in a fog. Like we’re just going through the motions, like we’re just trying to get it done. We don’t really think about it. So often I see email newsletters titled something like, Weekly eNews From ABC Charity, or Your Monthly Newsletter. Does that inspire me to open it? Nope. It really doesn’t. If I’m a die hard supporter of that organization and I’m just itching for the news, then yeah, maybe I would. But chances are it’s probably just your board members and key volunteers who fall into that category! And the audience you’re hoping to reach is hitting the delete button.

How do you get those casual donors to open your email newsletter? You need to excite them. And guess what? There’s actually proven science out there that shows what people open. That’s what we need to be doing. So here it is: it’s shorter headlines, usually six to seven words, and these are keywords full of impact. They’re coming from that lead story in our newsletter. Please stop saying “This is a Newsletter.” You have to say what’s happening in that lead article using action words. And you want a mix of words – common, uncommon, emotional, powerful. When you’re coming up with content ideas try to come up with anything that’s a how-to or a list. An article like“9 Ways That We’ve Helped Our Community” is going to get higher click rates that “Our Report to the Community“. Now, I know that this is all a lot to learn and keep up with. So guess what? I use a tool.

What do I use? I use a tool put out by the company called CoSchedule. They have a great headline analzyer tool. It’s simple, you type in the headline that you think you want to use and it scores it (out of 100). So this video/email for example, is titled How to Get Your Donors to Open Your Email Newsletter. It scored a 71/100. Typically, I want to make sure it’s at least a 70/100 before I send something out. If I have time, I’ll try to get it a little higher. But if not, I’m happy with a 70/100. After all – I’ve got other things to do. But, I’ve made sure that all the effort I put into creating my newsletter content is realized by having people actually open it!

So that’s this week’s free resource: CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer. Check that out. Take the 30-60 seconds before you send something, and put the extra effort in, to ensure your constituents actually open it!


How to Write 3 Minute Thank You Notes

How to Write 3 Minute Thank You Notes

Today, we’re talking about handwritten thank you notes. We need to do them. We need to thank our donors. If you don’t send handwritten thank you notes, please start doing sp. But I know what you’re thinking, “They take so much time.” But, they don’t have to take so much time if you use the @fundraiserchad 3 Minute / 3 Sentence Thank You Note Formula.

It’s three minutes, we can do that. And it’s only three sentences. The first sentence is, what happened. The second sentence is, the impact of what happened. And the third sentence is, what you appreciate about them. Use that word, “appreciate.” That’s it, it’s that simple. Why don’t we take a look at an example:


That’s it, fundraisers. It’s simple. Do handwritten thank you notes. Your donors will appreciate it, your staff will appreciate it, your family will appreciate it. It makes a big difference. Use the formula. Want a simple reminder?

Give the @fundraiserchad Thank You Note Formula a download, hang it on your bulletin board and make thank you note writing a part of your weekly routine.


How to Manage Your Grants, So They Don’t Manage You

How to Manage Your Grants, So They Don’t Manage You

This week’s featured resrouce is our grant calendar template. What’s a grant calendar template you ask? Very simply, this is the tool you use to manage your grant seeking efforts. This is how you make sure you don’t miss a deadline and it lets you see all of your grant activity on one page. It’s incredibly valuable. I never felt like I had grants under control until I started using a tool like this.

So give it a download and fill it in. Take an afternoon and get all your grant information in one spot. Then you only have to review it once a month! It will be very easy to know what application deadlines or grant report deadlines are coming up within the next 30 to 60 days. This will help you organize your time better, because with grants it’s not usually a quick one afternoon deal. We might have to request letters of support or other key things, so having upcoming grants on the radar and having everything in one place is incredibly valuable. Even if you outsource your grant writing, I encourage you to do this. It’s how you manage your freelancer(s). So when you have your check in calls with that person you have something concrete to refer to and review with them. It’s the key management tool.

Give it a download, fill it out, and put it to use in your organization.


Your Key to Year Over Year Fundraising Event Growth

Your Key to Year Over Year Fundraising Event Growth

If you’re in the middle of planning a big fundraising event, you’re probably already dreaming of that day where you can put it to rest. A lot of times I see nonprofits do the event and then send out the thank you notes and they’re done. They don’t think about it anymore until about three or four months before it comes around again on the annual calendar. I encourage you to spend a little bit more time on that event right afterwards and save yourself a lot of time and frustration. Plus, you’ll be more likely to take that event to the next level the following year.

How do you do that? An event recap. Not a giant report, but a one page overview of the event. It contains a little bit of background information about the event (in case somebody has to recreate it next year) and then some comparison data. It answers questions like: What’s the purpose of this event? How did this year compare to the year before? Which way are we trending?

The final two components are what helps to take the event to the next level in future years. You need to answer: What went really well this year? and What do we need to work on for next year? If we document that, then when it’s time to get started the following year, we can pick up right where we left off and not have to recreate our previous work. So I encourage you to spend an hour or two to do an event recap, put in your files, then forget about the event. Go take a rest, go take a spa day, go take a hike, get some “me time” and really recover. Give yourself that self-care that we need after these big gigantic fundraising events and rest assured that next year’s event is already on the path to success.

Are You Sure You’re Reporting Impact to Your Donors?

Are You Sure You’re Reporting Impact to Your Donors?

Are you telling your donors what you actually do with their donations? Do you report on impact? Do you tell them what happened? Many of you are saying, “Of course, I do that. I send a gift acknowledgement letter as soon as they send a donation. I have to. It’s the law. Of course we do that!” But…are you? We think we do it. We send that letter and that letter says what we’re going to do with the dollars, not what we did with them. It probably takes us a few months to put those dollars into action, actually create some impact, but we don’t really tell the donor that. We never report on that impact.

So, perhaps you put that information in a newsletter or an email blast. Do you know the open rate on your email blast? It’s probably 20%, maybe 30% if you’re really lucky. Those’re the only people who are getting that information! And are they actually reading the full article? Probably not. So they’re never really hearing what you actually did with their support. They have to guess. They have to assume that we did what we’re supposed to do.

Don’t make them assume. Tell them! One of my favorite tools for this is the impact letter. This is an additional piece of correspondence, without an ask, that comes out maybe three to six months after their donation.

It simply says: Dear donor, thanks so much for your loyal support. It’s been about six months since you so generously gave to this cause. We just wanted to let you know what we did with those funds. We have done …. And you list a couple of key points, key initiatives, key items of impact that have happened because of that donor.

This is where you give them credit. Lots of you language – you, your. Not me, we’s, or ours. Make the donor the hero of that impact letter. They did this. Without them, none of that would’ve happened. Give them credit. Once they get that, they’re simply going to say, “Wow, this charity actually told me what they did with my funds. I like them. They’re trustworthy. I bet I could give more support to them, and they’d put it to good use as well.” That’s what we’re after.

Then the loop is closed and we are ready to have that conversation about increased support. The donor feels appreciated. Because this is really about that donor experience. Everything we do, we have to monitor that donor experience. How would it make you feel? Do you feel like a dollar sign or do you feel like a trusted partner? That’s what we’re after. So use an impact letter. We, of course, have a great template here at Productive Fundraising. Give that a download, put it into use in your organization.

How to Speed Up Your Grant Preparation Time

How to Speed Up Your Grant Preparation Time

Grants are a great way of raising dollars, but they take a lot of time. Writing those proposals is so time consuming, which can be frustrating when so much is uncertain. Will this get approved? Will it not? So, full disclosure, I have some strong beliefs about grant writing and I actually prefer to outsource it.

But, lets talk about how to write grants when you do need to write one in house. A lot of the things that go into grants are repeated time after time, and sadly, lots of shops just keep recreating those specific items for every proposal. The key here is to not reinvent the wheel. Because a lot of grants ask for the same general information – your mission, your current programs, your strategic initiatives – you should develop a boilerplate proposal. Then you have something that you can just plug and play.

I have what I like to call my ‘fundraising go bag.’ It’s a list of all the documents that are routinely used for grants. I have print outs of them and I also have a digital file folder of them. Every time I go to write a grant or need that information, it’s all in one place, ready to go. It saves me a lot of time.

Check out our free resource — the Fundraising Go Bag Checklist. It lists everything that you need to assemble in advance to make the grant writing and preparation process so much easier. Do it once … don’t reinvent the wheel.

Thank You Letter Checklist [free download]

So your year end appeal is written and off to the mail house…You’ve setup some pre-holiday visits with your key donors. Lapsed donor lists are printed and you’re checking the daily. What else can you do to boost fundraising before the end of the year?

Have you read your standard gift acknowledgement letter lately? Is it actually enjoyable to read? Has it been updated in the last six months? Is it donor centric?

Check out this great Thank You Letter Checklist from my pals at Agents of Good and see if your letter is up the task of making your donors feel amazing.


Fundraising Appeal Editable Template [free download]

Need a head start on your next fundraising appeal?

Start with @fundraiserchad’s free editable template. It will show you what goes where and help you remember to include some of the key components to optimized fundraising appeals.


This template is just one of the components of our Fundraising Appeals Toolkit. This toolkit give you the instruction, resources and inspiration to create a fully optimized fundraising appeal for your nonprofit organization (all for just $89 … the ROI is incredible)!

Donor Update Call Script [free download]

Are you calling your donors to thank them for their support? Are your board members helping out? I certainly hope so, if not you are losing out as other nonprofits in town are connecting with your donors this way!

With donor thank you calls becoming more common these days, how do you stand out? Try donor update calls.

These calls are very similar to donor thank you calls, but they take place three to six months after the donation is made. We are once again calling to say thank you, but this time we have results to share. We have the proof that their donation made a difference and we simply want to share that with them.

Sound good? Read to pick up the phone? Nervous … here’s my Donor Update Call Script to help you out. Now go call some donors!


Super Simple Elevator Speech Template [free download]

How do you talk about your nonprofit organization?

How do your board members talk about your organization? Are they nervous? If so, they’re probably trying to recite your mission statement and totally butchering it.

Make it easy for them … give them a super simple elevator speech to recite that leads right into a story about the impact your organization has had on one person.

Here’s the super simple formula …

  • “We help [who],”
  • “So they can [do what].”
  • “Let me tell you about [first name], [story]”

This is far easier to remember than our boring, jargon-filled mission statements. And exact words aren’t important … just get the basic concept and you’re golden.

Better yet, let your board create the elevator speech. Download my Super Simple Elevator Speech Template and have your board members complete it as an exercise at your next board meeting or retreat.

It’s amazing what can happen when everyone is telling the same story out in the community. You just have to give them the tools to do so.