How to Create More Successful NonProfit Solicitation Emails

 In Blog Post, Hank Yuloff

Every holiday season, I am bombarded by a bevy of Nonprofit Solicitation Emails. They have become sort of a hobby. When you are on the contact list for dozens OF nonprofits, getting nonprofit solicitation emails in December comes with the territory.

The hobby part of reviewing nonprofit solicitation emails is to see how many of them are poorly executed. They expect you to just hand over the money because they are a nonprofit.

Another part of the hobby is to see which nonprofit solicitation emails are executed well. And my favorite nonprofit solicitation emails are the ones that, with a few changes, could be even more successful.

Why Most NonProfits Are Not as Successful as They Could Be

Before I show you an example of each, I want to discuss why most nonprofits are not as successful as they could be.

Simply put, it is because they are not militant for their cause.

Too many nonprofits approach donors with their hand out, palm up, expecting us to drop coins just because they are a nonprofit.

They fail to understand that the 501c-3 designation is just a tax status. NonProfit orgnizations are allowed to make a profit, just not for the benefit of any given individual, only for the mission.

Fundraisers SHOULD approach donors, hand up, with a piece of parchment in hand, showing us what they do for the community. It should be a list of what would not be getting done by private business or government if their nonprofit did not exist.

Another way to picture this is Ebeneezer Scrooge getting to see, with his own eyes, how much different his life could be if he was more giving to the right organizations.

This lack of sales ability is why so many nonprofits struggle. It is also one of the reasons we offer a free copy of our product, The Small Business Marketing Plan, to the nonprofit of choice to the business owner who invests in the program.

Here are 3 examples of what I received the last week of the year.

My Ghosts of Christmas NonProfit Solicitation eMails Past

First is from Cancer Support Community. They sent it to me at 4:12 pm on New Year’s Eve. They should have been making their case a long time prior to that. Their message is not a very strong one: no stories and no photos. The subject line of “Only a Few Hours Left…” does not reach out to me, either.

The next is from a local hospital. They got to me earlier in the week, and had been asking since Thanksgiving.

Their subject line assumes I am finally thinking about tax deductions the last two days of the year.

Their headline is missing a WHY. Or more specifically, a “Y.” Imagine them reminding me that I had just one more chance to support MY community instead of THEIRS.

They do have a good photo, showing me their medical team in action. Unfortunately, I have to read down into the body copy to find out that the money is to support their Emergency Department.

It turns out, this campaign brought in over $150,000 thanks to a very large matching donor. They did not mention the matching donor campaign in the email which is disappointing as it would increase donations. What is great, however, is that there are 2 direct phone numbers that allow you to speak to the nonprofit directly.

The last email was from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. They gave us a time limit, and a reason to donate in the subject line. That increases open rate. They gave us compelling reasons to donate and how they will be using your money. They also highlighted a matching donation which lets me see that I can donate an amount and it would be doubly effective. One more thing that is GREAT about this email is that on their donate button, they are telling me that it is secure to add my credit card.

I have brought up tactics which should be used year-round to improve your nonprofit solicitation emails fundraising. If you want more help, give us a call at 800-705-4265 or, even better, take our free marketing assessment at

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Showing 2 comments
  • Lin Ennis

    Exactly! The worst ones I get are from the schools. They are photocopies of photocopies. If they are going to write a lousy request letter, they could at least make a clean copy. lol Last year we got five requests from the schools in one district in a six week period. This is going to hurt them as we move to one donation per organization per year.

    Another asked us to donate five gym memberships for their volunteer appreciation luncheon. That was a huge ask. We gave two, plus three smaller gifts. Then they asked for a $2000 in-kind donation which sold at their auction for $135 if I remember correctly. What have they done for us in return? The solicitor of the last gift hosted us at the banquet. The organization itself has done nothing in return.