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Email Fundraising: Your Ultimate Guide

Photo: Katie VallasEmail is the #1 most effective tool you can use to fund your DonorsChoose request. Asking for donations from the people you know can seem daunting at first, so we’ve broken the process down into six easy steps. Here’s all the information you need to advocate for your students and reach your project goal.

1. Brainstorm your list. Decide who to email by answering these three questions:
          Who cares about me? Make a list of the friends and family members who would be curious about the awesome stuff you’re doing in your classroom. Your dad? Your cousins? Old college friends? Your running group? Write ‘em all down.
          Who cares about my school? Supporting a project close to home may appeal to people who don’t know you or your students very well. Write down local businesses, community members, and former students who might be invested in your school and want to support your community.
          Who cares about my students? Add your students’ parents and guardians to the list as well. If this group’s resources are very limited, you can still involve them without asking for donations. (More on that later.)

2. Keep it personal. Send individualized emails to the people on your list. Cut-and-paste certain elements of your note, but tailor each one to your recipients, their unique interests, and their relationship with you.
Let your supporters know you’ve posted a project, explain why you thought they’d want to know, share a couple of details about your students, and highlight the impact your project will have on their lives. No need to write a formal essay; a few sentences will do!

3. Create urgency. Potential donors are more likely to contribute when time is of the essence. The easiest way to utilize urgency is if you have matching donations (for example, if it’s a special match day, if you have a match code, or if you have a match offer.) If your project qualifies for matching donations, make sure you let your donors know.  
If you don’t have a matched donations, you can still give supporters a nudge to donate early: “My goal is to get five contributions in this first week. Please help if you can.”

4. Keep your request short, sweet, and clear. Once you’ve explained a bit about your project and created urgency, ask for support. Ask clearly and simply, and don’t forget to include your project link to make donating easy. Here are a few example asks to get you started: “Click on the link below to contribute to our classroom!” “Please donate. Every little bit truly makes a big difference.”
If you want to involve parents and guardians but know their resources are limited, you can simply ask them to share the project link. “Most parents are willing [to spread the word],” says teacher Michelle Ramos, “because it’s quick, easy, free, and effective.” 

5. Embrace the (r)email. After that first email to each potential donor, make sure to send at least one reminder email (aka remail). There are lots of great moments to send a remail. Pick your favorite:
          Is your match code going to expire tomorrow? Remail.          Are you halfway to your goal? Remail.          Has your project been up for two weeks without much action? Remail.

6. Say thanks.  One of the most important elements of email fundraising is actually the easiest: the gratitude email. Each time you get a donation, respond to the notification email you receive from us with a thank you note to your donor. This makes people feel great about their contribution, encourages them to give to your future projects, and shows potential supporters how much you’ll value their support.

Want more email advice? Get tips from a fellow fundraiser.
Just can’t find the words? Use a template.
Already sent your emails? Explore other fundraising techniques.

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