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Drive Donations Through Digital Outreach

Drive Donations

Your contributors are emotionally invested in your ministry. They’ve made a deliberate and committed choice to be supporters and share in the vision and mission of your church. Because of this, you use email marketing in an extremely unique way to drive donations. Here are some standard steps and best practices to follow as you plan or launch a digital giving campaign.

Three important types of giving campaign emails 

While there are countless ways you can communicate with your supporters about your fundraising efforts, there are three key types of giving campaign emails: 

  1. The initial appeal. The first email soliciting support for a particular campaign or initiative, this email should be as specific as possible.
    • What is the target amount your ministry is working toward? 
    • What will these funds be used for in your ministry? 
    • How long will your giving campaign efforts go on? 
    • Are there other ways supporters can help achieve this goal if a direct donation is not possible?

Use imagery wherever possible to attract your donors’ attention and make it clear what they are supporting. The more details you can provide, the more informed your donors are and the more comfortable and motivated they might feel.

  1. The follow-up appeal and progress update. Here’s where understanding your audience is important. Ideally, when you send out a follow-up appeal, you want two specific messaging paths:
    • one for people who have already donated
    • one for people who have not yet donated.

Existing donors should feel the excitement and gratitude around their donations, but this can also be a great opportunity to give them ways to share your giving campaign with their network or maximize their own donations. Your supporters who have not yet donated should be reminded of the deadline and the ways they can support your ministry.

The email for each audience should include an update on how much has been donated and how far from (or close to!) your target amount you are. Thermometer graphics and bar graphs are a great way to help your existing donors see how far their donation has gone and can help show how much money is still needed. 

There are no rules to how many follow-up emails you can send, but be sensitive to your supporters’ limits and inboxes! Depending on the length of the campaign, it may be appropriate to follow up regularly, or for shorter campaigns, once in the final days of the drive. Monitor your recipients open and click-through rates to gauge engagement and adjust your cadence accordingly.

  1. Thank you and success update(s). The “thank you” email may not seem like it is as important as your initial appeal, but it packs just as much of a punch for how your donors view you (and your needs) in the future. It’s about a lot more than just saying “thanks,” however. 

If your donors were chipping in for something specific, like a mission trip or a new facility or resource, your donors will be interested and excited to hear what the next steps are with timing. (And you should consider regular update emails as these projects are underway!) After all, they had a hand in making it happen! If they donated to something more general, like general operating expenses, let them know what their money allows you and your ministry to accomplish.

Best practices to consider

As you plan out your giving communications, how can you ensure you’re getting the most out of your marketing with your supporters? There are some best practices to keep in mind no matter what your goals are. 

  • Use clear calls to action. Whenever you ask your supporters for something, make sure you are using limited, clear calls to action. If you want them to donate, make it very clear where and how they can donate (such as online, in-person at Sunday service, or other opportunities) and make any online opportunities a visually prominent button or graphic in the email.
  • Segment your audience. What does this mean? It means splitting your audience into groups based on what you know about them, their preferences, and past actions then customizing your communication to each of those groups. At a minimum, you might consider splitting your audience into supporters who have never donated before and those who have have donated to you. 

You can also get more detailed, with groups like people who have lapsed in their donations, or people who have signed up to volunteer for fundraising efforts. The more you can give people information that’s relevant exactly to them, the more effective your communications can be. 

  • Make your emails visually compelling. Imagery in your emails can serve many purposes, including getting your recipients’ attention. But more importantly, imagery can – and should – tell your unique story and the story of your ministry’s needs. This can be an excellent opportunity to show your congregants what’s at stake, or how their funds are being put to good use. 
  • Use video to your advantage. Whether you’re reaching out by email or other channels (more on that in a moment!), including a video is a great way to get your message across in a quick, humanizing and personal moment. Keep your video short (think two minutes or less) and be clear about what you’re asking for, why you need it, when you need it, and how they can provide it.
  • Don’t limit yourself to email only. Obviously, email is still very important. (After all, 55% of people say it’s still their preferred way of getting information!) But digital marketing has evolved exponentially over the last handful of years, with channels like social media and text messaging rising in popularity. Social media can help your organization to cast a broad net outside of your email list, and easily enables your supporters to share your appeal to their own network, and text messaging is great for last-minute reminders as you near special events or deadlines.

No matter what your ministry’s specific needs or giving campaign cadences are, the most important thing to remember is that you know your donors better than anyone, and their choice to support your mission is the most valuable asset you have to work with. Sharing clear, detailed communication with this audience and inviting them to share your goals and celebrate your successes is easy with the right communication tools at your disposal. 


ACS Technologies and Constant Contact have teamed up to help your ministry build deeper relationships with your most important audiences, plus offer savings on their digital marketing tools. You can get started for free, with a 60-day free trial and when you’re ready be sure to take advantage of their special ACS Technologies offer. 

Save 30% for 3 months, plus get a one-hour kickoff call to help your ministry get set up for success. During your onboarding call, they can help you import/sync your contact lists (with the Realm integration), get your email templates ready, and more. Whether you’re just starting out with email marketing or you’re a pro, their award-winning customer support team is here to help.

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About Constant Contact

Constant Contact delivers for small businesses and nonprofits with powerful tools that simplify and amplify digital marketing. Whether it’s fundraising, growing your donor base, or engaging an audience, we deliver the performance and guidance to build strong connections and generate powerful results. For more information, visit

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