I was working in a marketing team at a company before I stepped my foot into nonprofit world. At my Host Organization, I train organizations how to effectively fundraise from individuals using GlobalGiving’s platform – and surprisingly individual fundraising is so much similar to consumer marketing. I enjoy thinking about different approaches that compels individual donors.

Here’s what seems to work in both consumer marketing and individual fundraising worlds:
-Personalized email (not “dear donor”)
-Contents that have pictures (cuter the better)
-Communicating updates in a timely, but not too frequent manner
-Contents that have a story (not just numbers, that’s boring).
-Include something that is relevant to the donor (why should the donor care?)

While a lot of nonprofit organizations are doing this already, sometimes I come across cases that are cringeworthy. Bad spelling, email addressed to the wrong person, photos attached the wrong way, etc etc.

What infuriates me the most though – are emails that pop into my inbox without my consent. I receive so many emails that I don’t recall signing up for on a daily basis. I recently had to ask one of our partners why he kept emailing me, and his reasoning was “We hope that you can check the content to see if we are writing the right thing, and maybe one day ‘you will have a change of mind’ to donate to us”.

Now, THAT’s a turn-off.

Emailing people just because you had a contact with them is never okay.  Especially if you are asking for donations or asking for their money to buy their product.  You only have so much patience with dealing irrelevant information in your inbox, and continuously receiving emails that you’re not interested will lead to one action: mark the email as spam.
I think the same goes to social media.  I do not wish to see the advertisement for baby shoes, or worse, selling my eggs to infertility treatment facilities in Hawaii in my Facebook feed (why are they so hard to turn off even if I select no?).
Don’t rub the information to people’s face.  Always give them an option to opt-in/ opt-out.  Though you can send millions of emails and tweets, there are definitely limits to people’s patience.

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