The Email Fundraiser’s Toolkit

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Event Details

Email campaigns are a fundraising tool within the reach of even the smallest organizations. An effective way to communicate with donors and raise money without much expense, they're an opportunity to provide reasons and reminders for constituents to give.

Campaigns are affordable, and not particularly complicated – but a number of guidelines and best practices can help ensure successful delivery and donor-engagement.

This five-week series of classes, created and presented through a partnership between Idealware and NTEN, will walk nonprofits through the soup-to-nuts process of creating such campaigns, just in time for year-end appeals.

Presented by experts, this series will demystify each step involved—from strategy to success.

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Participants will complete worksheets for review by peers and experts, and can expect to spend about two hours each week on coursework outside of the sessions. Over five weeks, they'll develop and take away a finished and polished email fundraising strategy and the first email in their next email fundraising campaign.

Participants will learn:

  • To create overall campaign plans that consider both audience and message.
  • To compose emails that capture and engage the people they want to reach.
  • How to identify which email and online donation tools are the best fit for their organization.
  • How to use donation tools to draft, deliver and track their messages.
  • How to define and measure success;
  • And how to adapt their techniques and practices to improve results.


Week 1: Getting started with email fundraising—setting goals and your arc of emails

Every successful email fundraising campaign is built on the foundation of a solid plan and a compelling story. In this first class we'll talk in depth about what makes a story compelling and what motivates potential donors to give. Then we'll dive into strategies for structuring a campaign over a series of email to achieve the highest return.

Week 2: Writing effective emails—subject lines, donate buttons and creative content, oh my!

Okay, so you have a story…now what? In class number two we'll talk through the ins and outs of effective email writing from drafting attention-grabbing subject line to the p.s. and everything in between. Drawing from real life examples, we will learn how to craft the perfect email from top to bottom.

Week 3: Audience participation—building your email list

Successful online fundraising, actions, and outreach all start with a solid and substantial list of email addresses. But how do you build your list with the addresses of constituents truly interested in your cause? We'll discuss a wide variety of tools and techniques to gather solid email addresses, from direct mail and list appending techniques, to online registration methods, to PR and marketing tactics, to social media and viral marketing list building efforts – and how all of those things fit together.

Week 4: Tools of the trade—broadcast email and online donation software

Sending and tracking thousands of emails can be daunting and complex. We'll walk through what you need to know in order to setup, send, and track email campaigns effectively covering several of the reliable and affordable (even free!) tools most commonly used for mass emailing, such as Vertical Response, EmailNow powered by Emma, ConstantContact, and more. And once your donor is ready to pull out their credit card, do you have the right tool to collect their donation online? In the second half of this session we'll cover what you need to know in order to choose a tool and get started. What tools are available and how do they work? How do you know which one is right for your organization? We'll look closely at some of the specific tools that are available, such as Network for Good, PayPal, Click & Pledge, Auction Pay, and more.

Week 5: Measuring your success and taking it to the next level—metrics and ROI and getting your supporters to fundraise for you

In the final class of the course we'll take a look at how we can effectively measure the success of our email campaign. Taking a deep dive into what email metrics mean, we'll discuss how to use data to strategically improve email communications. And to close out our series we'll take email fundraising and turn it on its head with a quick look at the techniques and tools of friend-to-friend fundraising, arming your supporters to fundraising on your behalf.

Additional Coursework

Email Fundraiser's Toolkit Participants will be placed in small email peer discussion groups to faciliate learning among other participants. On a weekly basis, you will be asked to present course assignments including your first fundraising email for peer review and give feedback to other participants. 


Conducted by Laura Quinn, Andrea Berry, and expert guests

Laura Quinn is executive director of Idealware. She has more than five years' experience researching software for nonprofits, and has led hundreds of technology trainings. She conducted the research and co-authored Idealware's Field Guide to Software for Nonprofits, as well as many other Idealware reports and articles, including the guide to low-cost donor management systems. Prior to founding Idealware, Laura founded Alder Consulting, a firm that specialized in strategizing, designing and building powerful internet strategies for affordable budgets. She's a frequent speaker on nonprofit technology topics.

Andrea Berry is director of partnerships and learning. She oversees Idealware's fundraising and training activities, including the Field Guide to Nonprofit Software, sponsorship, corporate and individual giving, grants management and online seminars. Prior to joining Idealware, Andrea held fundraising positions in education, health research and museums, and has taught math, performing arts and history in traditional and non-traditional educational settings. She brings a breadth of experience with fundraising and communications, particularly as it relates to small nonprofits, and has worked as a consultant with nonprofits across New England to help identify appropriate donor management software. Additionally, as a former teacher, Andrea brings front-line tested expertise in curriculum development and training.

Please register with the email address where you would like to receive the access and dial-in information for the online seminar.

Questions? For content questions email the presenters at For logistical questions, please email NTEN at

Event Materials

Class 1 Slides1.1 MB
Class 3 Slides1003.92 KB
Class 5 Slides3.15 MB