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Salsa Blog

Being Mindful of Online Fundraising Email Content and Setup

by Kristen DeMint, Author, The Essential Guide to End-of-Year Fundraising for Nonprofits of All Sizes

Many folks think content is the only thing that matters and putting a single spam word here or there will cause issues. The truth is, some keywords cause more issues than others, but in reality, context is what really matters. The algorithms that scan e-mails for patterns are smart enough to recognize patterns in sentences and e-mails to determine whether a message is spam as opposed to just looking at one word here and there.

Content does matter, but overall it’s one small piece to the very big and complicated puzzle. Here are the major considerations:

  • Make sure your “From” and “Reply-To” addresses exist. Make sure someone actually monitors these accounts as well.
  • Add a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) record to your Domain Name System (DNS). If you don’t have an SPF record set up, you should. An SPF basically says that an e-mail service provider has permission to send on your behalf; although e-mails may look like they’re from your company, they’re actually being sent, for example, by Salsa Labs. SPF helps prove you’re a legit sender.
  • Pick topics thoughtfully. On top of the actual content you write, make sure e-mails are relevant to the audience and get them engaged. Also avoid e-mail blasts that cover multiple spammy topics at once. Because you’re sending e-mails asking for donations, check the most recent spam words list you can find online or from an e-mail service provider like Salsa. Many monetary-related words that you may use will be on the list.
  • Make sure your subject line (and e-mail, for that matter) makes sense. Don’t use spammy words or phrases like
    • CAPITAL letters
    • Dear (anything)
    • "Lesbian" or "lesbians"
    • Mentions age > 20
    • "Millions of dollars"
    • Subject starts with "Do you"
    • URL shorteners
    • "You can be removed from this list"
    • !!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Write well. Aside from the obvious problems with poorly written communication, you need to write clearly, honestly, and directly to get your recipients to read what you’ve sent and respond positively. Avoid gimmicks.
  • Format intelligently. Don’t be cute with formatting, even if you can’t imagine anyone else in history using a format like yours. Don’t use weird spaces, odd characters, and the like.
  • Always include an unsubscribe link. Double-check it to make sure it works.
  • Check your e-mail’s spamminess. If you’re a Salsa client, check under the e-mail validation tab in Salsa to find your spam score.

Now, take a deep breath and download the free e-book, The Essential Guide to End-of-Year Fundraising. No matter how big or small your nonprofit, this easy-to-read book is packed with tips and advice for creating your year-end online fundraising plan, utilizing many low cost online tactics.

Topics: Fundraising Marketing