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In today's fast-paced, tight-budget, not-enough-hours-in-the-day world, we all could use ways to do more with less. And fundraisers aren't the only ones. In fact, that's what makes this next fundraising tip so important.

Go through your email inbox from yesterday. How many "real" emails did you get and how many "mass marketing" emails did you get? I can tell you that more than 1 in 3 of my emails yesterday were junk. Being that it was Monday - a relative slow day for email marketing, we both can expect that number to rise as the week goes on.

different-pencil-standout-show-leadership-concept-picture-id1175502026HOW CAN I STAND OUT?

The trick here is balancing the ease/convenience of mass marketing with the personal touch of a one-off email. If you use a service like HubSpot, this becomes really easy (and you gain more control and reporting), but if not, there’s still a good old-fashioned email merge.

You're probably familiar with Mail Merge, when you use a list in Excel to personalize a letter that you are going to print, or name tags for an event. Mail Merge's lesser known cousin - and frankly much cooler, too - is the E-Mail Merge. Using the same strategies:

  • Draft an email in Word
  • Connect it with your datasource, just like a normal mail merge
  • Instead of sending to your printer, send to your email program.
Viola! Just like that, you've sent individual emails to hundreds, if not thousands, of people.


One trick that I've learned is to write the letter like you would an individual email. In fact, I've found (no real hard data to back this up) starting with a word like "Hey" actually increases the response rate.

Hey-1Want to take it one step further? Use some of your excel fields to add more than just numbers/data for your merge. You could even add entire sentences to personalize, so that this:


Hey, I hope you are off to a great start of the week! ((PERSONALIZATION1)).

Please let me know if you'd have time over the next few weeks to talk about ((PERSONALIZATION2)).

I look forward to catching up again soon.


Becomes this:


Hey, I hope you are off to a great start of the week! It was really great getting to meet your wife at the fundraiser this past weekend and finally put a face with a name.

 Please let me know if you'd have time over the next few weeks to talk about getting more involved with our organization.

I look forward to catching up again soon.


I anticipate you would see 2X - 3X greater response using this method over traditional mass emails, so be careful not to send to too many people. While having 100 responses in your email may be a "good problem to have," it's still a problem.

Break up your list, and send to manageable groups, so that you aren't left with more on your plate (or your calendar) than you can handle.

Help-1If you want to test this out, build a spreadsheet with friends, family and/or coworkers and give it a shot. In your email, ask them to reply so that you can see what went out. Perhaps the biggest risk with this method is that if you make a mistake - typo, wrong date, mislabeled merge field that accidentally sends as "((merge2))" – that mistake is multiplied by however many people are in your list.

You also lose the ability to tell how many people opened your email, but as I tell many organizations, that information is only important if you are actually going to use it. It's been my experience that most organizations don't fully utilize this information, so why not try something different!

NOTE: If reporting is important to you – schedule some time and let’s talk about how Hubspot makes that easier for organizations like Thread, Toledo Jeep Fest, and even my own small business.


This is just one way that organizations and fundraisers can increase efficiency and increase the personal touch that their donors receive. For other strategies or ideas, give me a call. I'd love to help you dramatically increase engagement and fundraising, without overwhelming your staff, volunteers and/or board.