Tips for Creating Compelling Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Email Content

This article was originally posted on NonProfit PRO’s blog.

There are a lot of effective ways to communicate with your peer-to-peer fundraising participants, such as social media, apps and push notifications, SMS and direct mail – to name a few. But email is still king. It’s a powerful tool for your peer-to-peer fundraising. It can help you recruit participants, motivate your fundraisers, and build long-term relationships with supporters.

There are many aspects that go into effective email communications for peer-to-peer fundraising – including audience segmentation, email timing, and overall strategy. Let’s look at a facet of email communications that focuses on grabbing the readers’ attention and inspiring them to take the action you want them to take: content.

The following tips are from a five-session email communications workshop I presented with peer-to-peer fundraising experts from Event 360, Peerworks Consulting, Susan G. Komen, and our own Cathexis Partners team as part of the virtual conference, It’s a Peer-to-Peer World.

Developing clear calls to action (CTAs)
Before you begin writing email communications, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want your audiences to do. First, think about the four areas of their journey with your peer-to-peer event or campaign: recruiting, activation, optimization, and retention.

Then, for each area of the journey, think about what you want your audiences to do and what your CTA should be. Here are some examples:

GoalWorking CTA
RecruitNew people to join usWill you join us?
Returning people to join againWill you join us again?
Start a teamWill you start a team?
Build a teamWill you build a team?
ActivateInspire people to fundreaiseWill you start fundraising?
Start their team’s fundraisingWill you jump-start your team’s fundraising?
OptimizeEncourage people to keep fundraisingWill you keep fundraising?
Teach people to fundraise moreWill you ask more often?
Will you ask for larger donations?
RetainReturnWill you come again next year?
Bring their friendsWill you start a team?

Creating compelling content
With your CTAs in mind, it’s time to build content that grabs the readers’ attention. Here are some tips to help you build email messages that get noticed and drive the actions you’re after:

  • Subject line – This is the one shot you have to get someone to open your email.
    • Keep the subject line concise so that the full subject line will show up in most email programs (about 40 characters maximum).
    • Make it a summary of the email content.
    • Optionally, pique the reader’s curiosity by including an offer, teasing content, or presenting a deadline.

Example subject line: This is the year to [mission]

  • Preview copy – This is the text on the line after the subject line of an email notification on your mobile device or even some desktops. Use this space to make the reader want to read more. For example:
    • It can be a literal continuation of the subject line so that you have more space to extend your subject line’s message.
    • Another option: Remind readers of why they’re participating.
    • Make the message more personal by adding the reader’s name in this space.

Example preview copy: Here’s how you can help, [Firstname].

Try to keep preview copy short and concise. While some email clients support up to 140 characters, others are limited to 40, so plan for no more than 40 characters.  

  • Message content – Now that you have your readers’ attention, it’s time to start inspiring them to take action. While your specific message will vary depending on your type of event and your audience, here are some effective approaches:
    • Explain why you’re writing to them and why they might want to take action. Using powerful stats and stories can demonstrate your mission impact and bring your mission to life.
    • Add impact by suggesting that taking action will help more people than just them.
    • “Normalize” the action to show that others like them have participated.
    • Demonstrate how they can participate. This be accomplished through the use of stats, testimonials (written, video, or audio) from other fundraisers or participants, and fundraising and team captain toolkits.
    • Provide an incentive for them to take action.

Learn more
Learn more tips and best practices for building strong email communications for your peer-to-peer fundraising: Read the free guide, Building Powerful Email Communications for Your Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaigns and Events. This guide includes tips, techniques, lessons learned, and worksheets from experts at Cathexis Partners, Event 360, Peerworks Consulting, and Susan G. Komen, who have worked on countless peer-to-peer campaigns.

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