How to Use Viral Email in Online Fundraising

So, you have committed to an online fundraising program. You have a nice digital download product or products ready to provide (some eBooks, software, audio files, etc.). You have your own web page. You have a cause that you really believe in and that has a story that touches people’s hearts.

All of that is great…but how do you turn it into a successful fundraising campaign?

You have a great start, but if no one hears about your effort, no one will give…no matter what.

Email, personal email, is one of the most powerful communication mediums on the planet today. When a friend gets an email from you, they open it, they read it, and they act on it.

There are some key points here. First, you need to send email to, and only to, people who will recognize your name and who are able to get your emails (which also means that your email provider is not blacklisted by whatever filtering and/or virus screening software that your friends may use. Second, make sure that the email is really yours. Sure, you can use a guideline to make sure that you cover the key points, but make sure that the email is in your voice. Third, make sure that the “call to action”, what you want your friend to do, is absolutely clear…and to make this viral, there will be two calls to action.

Who do you send to? Who do you usually send email to? Don’t you have a group of five or ten or fifteen people that you exchange email with every day, week or month. Don’t you have a group of people who are already affiliated with your cause, and a group who are not, but who you wish were? These are the people to send your email to.

Do not just blast email to random lists, or lots of people who don’t know you. At best, it won’t work very well. At worst, it may be Spam and may get your and/or your email provider blacklisted. Beyond that, it is just rude and will not make a good impression for your charity.

What do you say? Make it personal. These are your friends, or you want them to be. Be friendly. However, don’t be afraid to be clear. Tell people that you are trying to raise money for your cause. Tell them why. Tell them how important it is to you. Tell them that you are asking for their help (and people love to help.) Most important, tell them thank you! Tell them that you are grateful for their time and for their contribution. And then tell them what to do.

Here is the first call to action. Send people to the web page where your cause Fundraising ideas PTA and the offer are fully described. Be clear. Use the full description of the web site. then use that full name. Make it clear that once people get to the site they will have a chance to purchase some great product or products and proceeds go to your cause. And thank them again.

Then you have the second, and the most important call to action to make this a viral campaign. Ask your friends to send a similar email, or even just forward yours, with a friendly note on top, to ten, fifteen or twenty on their friends. Let them know that by sending this on to their friends, they are making an exponential difference to your campaign. Make it clear, that the more people who get this important message, the more successful the campaign will be. Finally, be sure to ask them to ask their friends to do the same thing…send on the message. And then, thank them again. True gratitude makes this work.

How effective can this be? The speed with which funding can accumulate is breathtaking. Let’s look at a simple example. Let’s assume that your cause has a five person committee who each send out an initial fifteen pieces of email (and that each of the five has gone to the site and made a purchase). Let’s then assume that ten out of the fifteen buy product and send out the email to ten of their friends. Of those, five buy the product and send out to five of their friends. Finally, they send to three and two take action. If it stopped there, you would have sold to and thus raised money from 805 people. And you can expect much better than that.


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