3 Steps to Email Fundraising for a Charity Race
As I wrote in Top 5 Fundraising Tips for a Charity Race, email was BY FAR my most effective way to raise money for 2 races and I beat my fundraising goals both times. Here’s 3 tricks I learned to help you get the most out of your digital contacts.
1. Get your contacts together
Your goal is to email everyone you have had any contact with in the last 12 months, including family, friends, co-workers, and your peeps on social media, even if you don’t know them in RL (real life). Facebook makes it particularily difficult to get your friends’ email addresses but here’s a great article on how to import your Facebook contact into Yahoo Mail or Gmail.
2. Write and send your own emails
Your charity’s fundraising page may have tools you can use to send out their general fundraising emails but don’t be tempted to use it! Some email providers may mark them as spam and your friends will never see them, not to mention they don’t sound like YOU. Yes, I’ve included templates and examples of the emails I used for fundraising but really effective emails should be personal and written by you. When your friends read it, they should hear it in your voice. It’s great to use my examples as a guide but definitely put your own spin on it. Don’t forget the subject lines too! Make sure they are personal and customized for you, your charity, or your race. The subject line will make or break whether or not your friend opens that email or marks it as spam themselves.
So you’re following my advice to send out your own emails and you plan to send out a mass email to all your contacts. If you go this route, you ABSOLUTELY MUST at a minimum use your email’s BCC (blind carbon copy) feature. This will prevent the dreaded “reply to all” accidents that we’ve all been a part of since email was invented and prevent someone from stealing all your friends’ email addresses. But there is something even better than sending a mass email. It does require some extra work so I’m calling it…
3. Extra credit: Personally address each recipient in the email
Your friends and family are much more likely to act on an email if you personally address them in the beginning. Pretend your name is Emily. Which one sounds nicer to you: “Dear Emily,” or “Hi, everyone.”? When you address each recipient, it sounds like you are personally reaching out to them and makes them more compelled to donate.
Does this mean you have to send out 500 individual emails? You could do it that way but you can also use a mail merge feature. It basically takes a list of email addresses and names, then inserts them into emails for you. I have Gmail so I used “Yet Another Mail Merge” to accomplish this and instructions can be found here. I will admit doing a mail merge is fairly advanced so don’t get frustrated if you can’t figure it out. BCCing as described in #2 is fine also.
Fundraising Email Templates
Now that you know who to email and how to email them, my fundraising email strategy requires that you send out 4 emails:
- Fundraising Outreach Email
- Fundraising Reminder Email
- Donation Thank You Email
- Post-Race Update Email
A description and example for each one is below…
1. Fundraising Outreach Email
This is the first email you send out to potential donors to let them know you are raising money and ask for donations. I would recommend that you send this out no earlier than 1 month before your race. Your email should include the following to be most effective:
- Name and date of your race
- Charity and a BRIEF, SIMPLE description of what it does – My advice is not to go the random testimonial route here (e.g. This is Sally’s story of how Charity Name changed her life.), unless you PERSONALLY know someone the charity has impacted.
- What your fundraising goal and what it means for the charity in tangible way – In my example, my goal of $1,000 provides food, care, and medical attention for 3 shelter dogs. Providing concrete examples of what the money will be used for will make your potential donors feel like the money will be put to good use and will make a difference.
- Ask for a specific but small amount, such as $5 or $10, so people are more likely to give.
- Link to your fundraising page
- If you are reaching out to people who may want to donate in cash or check, let them know the option is available.
Sample fundraising email
Subject: My Upcoming 1/2 Marathon
In October, I began training to run a 1/2 marathon (13.1 miles). Prior to this, I did not exercise at all. Since I work from home, I barely moved other than the 27 steps from my bed to my desk each day. In the last 4 months, I finished a 5k in November, a 10k in January, and ran a total of 95 miles so far.
On February 24th, 2013, I plan to achieve my goal of finishing the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon at Walt Disney World. To celebrate this huge personal accomplishment, I am raising money for the SPCA of Texas.
The SPCA of Texas is dedicated to providing every animal exceptional care and a loving home and is the leading animal welfare agency in North Texas, funded by the generosity of the community. They find families for homeless pets through 2 shelters, run 2 spay/neuter clinics, and conduct animal cruelty investigations. Our beloved rats, Gouda, Mozzarella, and Colby, were adopted from the SPCA of Texas shelter so they hold a special place in our hearts.
My goal is to raise $1,000 for the SPCA of Texas, which would provide care, food, and medical attention for 3 shelter dogs. Will you show your support as I strive to run 13.1 miles by donating $10 towards that goal? You can donate online here and see how much I’ve raised so far:
Even if you can’t donate, please cheer me on by leaving me a message on my page.
Thank you so much for supporting me!
With gratitude & love,
P.S. If you would prefer to mail a check, please reply to this e-mail and let me know.
2. Fundraising Reminder Email
This is the a reminder email that should be sent out 7-10 days before your race. Your email should include the following to be most effective:
- Only include people who have NOT donated yet!
- Same tips as the previous email but this should be a much shorter email.
- Give an update on how far away you are from your fundraising goal.
- Both times I raised money, I had already BEAT my fundraising goal before this reminder email was sent. Don’t stop if you’ve already met your goal! Your charity could certainly use more donations so set a new goal. Instead of saying “I’m only $100 away from my goal”, I changed it to “I’m trying to raise an additional $500”.
Sample reminder email
Subject: 10 days until I run 13.1 miles
In just 10 days, I’ll be running 13.1 miles in the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon at Walt Disney World on February 24th. I’ve been training hard so I’ll finish my first 1/2 marathon.
To celebrate this achievement, I am raising money for the SPCA of Texas. I’m only $100 away from my goal of $2,000, which would provide care, food, and medical attention for 6 shelter dogs.
Please show your support by helping me reach my goal. Will you make a $10 donation today?
Your donation will bring pets closer to a loving forever home and means the world to them.
Thank you for your support!
With love & gratitude,
3. Donation Thank You Email
Your fundraising site should notify you whenever you receive a donation and hopefully who it came from, unless they chose to be anonymous.
- Send a thank you to each donor as soon as possible after they made their donation.
- Do NOT send a mass email for your Thank You email ever. If someone spent their hard earned money to donate to your cause, you can take 3 minutes and send them a personal email to thank them.
- This is another good time to remind your donor about the charity and the difference their donation will make.
Sample Thank You email
Subject: Thank you for your support
THANK YOU for supporting us and Waffles by donating towards Strut Your Mutt, the Race to End Animal Cruelty!
Your donation makes a difference. Thanks to your support, and the work of thousands of other individuals and teams, this year the SPCA of Texas will change the lives of more than 50,000 North Texas animals.
With love and gratitude,
4. Post-Race Update Email
This is the final email you’ll send for this race. Once your race is completed, this is a nice way to let your donors know that your race and fundraising has ended.
- Send this email only to your donors. You can post a variation of the same thing on your social media accounts as well.
- Let everyone know how much you raised for your charity.
- Plan ahead and take a few photos at the event to include in this email.
Sample Post-Race Update email
Subject: I ran 13.1 miles and raised $2,000 for SPCA of Texas
I did it!! I completed Disney’s Princess Half Marathon on Sunday and, with your help, raised $2,000 of the SPCA of Texas, double my goal, and enough to provide care, food, and medical attention for 6 homeless pets! Thank you so much for sharing and celebrating this huge milestone in my life with me. Your support has meant so much.
With love and gratitude,
If you found these tips useful, please let me know in the comments below. Best of luck with fundraising and thank you for supporting charities!