6 Steps To Creating An Email Nurturing Campaign

Tina Jepson
Tina Jepson

You’ve decided that you want to reach out to engage current and potential donors for your upcoming campaign via email.


Email is a simple and effective way to introduce your cause, encourage donations, and get donors thinking about further engagement with your organization.

So, where do you start?

You are likely ready to jump right into it. However, I’m here to tell you that the most successful campaigns are well-thought-out. Before you begin reaching out to donors, be sure to take a step back and look at the big picture.

Follow these 6 steps and you’ll be on your way to a potentially successful email nurturing campaign.

1. Set Your Goal

What do you hope to gain from your email campaign? Before you begin thinking about anything else, consider what you want your email nurturing campaign to accomplish.

Everything about your email campaign, from the audience to the content, will depend on your ultimate purpose. Are you looking for new donors? Do you want to reconnect with established donors? Does your organization need people to attend an upcoming event?

When goal-setting, follow the ever-popular SMART formula. Be sure that your objectives are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

Goal setting is simplified when using the SMART formula. For example, if your email campaign goal is to gain new donors, specify how many donors you need, how quickly you need them, and how much you need from them.

Setting a clear and attainable goal is an essential first step.

2. Know Your Audience

Identifying who your target donors are is the next step toward a successful email campaign.

What does your organization do?

Say your organization facilitates internships for at-risk youth. Then you may want to reach out to business professionals in your community who may want to provide sponsorship. If you rescue animals, consider a target audience of pet owners.

To hone in on your target audience, consider factors like age, gender, socioeconomic status, education, and location.

Also, consider where your donor/potential donor is on the engagement spectrum. For example, if you want to further engage a recurring donor, invite them to an upcoming event. The graphic below paints a clear picture of a standard engagement ladder.

Engagement Ladder

Once you know who you are targeting, then you need to focus on tailoring your content and language to them. For example, if you want to appeal to millennials, try bold fonts and infographics.

Personalization is key to a successful email nurturing campaign.

3. Set A Timeline

The next step is to outline a tentative timeline for correspondence.

Donors don’t often decide to donate right away- they need to be cultivated. Therefore, it is essential that you send regular emails that effectively introduce your mission.

Begin with a concrete campaign timeline. This timeline will depend, of course, on how quickly your organization needs funds.

Once you know how long you have to get your donations in, then it is time to determine how many emails you need to send.

Use a spreadsheet to detail exactly when you will be sending out in each email, a summary of the content, and the ultimate financial goal of that email blast. Staying organized and on-task is key.

4. Create Good Content

You now know your goal, target audience, and how often you need to contact them. The next thing to think about is the content itself. This part of the process if extremely important to get right.

Successful fundraisers find that stories go a long way in selling the mission. Do you have a client willing to share their success story? Use it! Have you recently crunched numbers that detail your work over the previous year? This is the time to share that information.

Don’t be shy about touting your accomplishments. Donors are not going to want to continue to give both their time and money to an organization that isn’t providing consistent results. So, showcase your great statistics and success stories with pride!

Chances are, your content won’t necessarily change depending on your audience. What will change is how you present that information.

It wouldn’t make sense to ask a group of retirees to follow you on Twitter, or to expect parents of young children to make the time to read a 2,000-word story. Millennial donors may respond to videos, links to Twitter, and Facebook groups. On the other hand, older donors may be interested in a more traditional storytelling approach. Research what appeals to each demographic before creating the content.

5. Call To Action

You simply cannot just present a prospective donor with a story. Your email must contain a specific call to action. Don’t be shy about it- potential donors expect an ‘ask.’

At this point, it helps to be specific. If you need $10,000 to repair lighting at your facility, then say so. Explain what the funds will be used for, who will be involved in the process, and what the donor’s role is in your organization’s success.

Great examples of calls to action are straightforward and concise, just like your SMART goal. Try: “Be part of our $10,000 solution and donate now” or “Your donation of $100 provides a week’s worth of meals for children who are at-risk for hunger in our community.”

6. Next Time, Offer Something New

After your first email, the prospective donor now knows about your organization and that you are requesting a financial commitment. If they chose not to donate the first time, it is time to change up your content.

Try adding videos, images, newsletter-formats, stories, infographics, etc. Each correspondence should offer something new to your audience.

It is possible that your prospect doesn’t respond well to email, so always include links to outside sources that support your work, whether that is your website, Facebook page, or YouTube channel.

The bottom line here is to keep ongoing. An email campaign can be very successful with a little forethought. Set a goal, target your audience, outline your timeline, customize your content, engage your prospect, and, most importantly, keep on going until you reach your goal.

Your mission is not going to change, but how you express it can make all the difference in the world. You’ve got this!

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