One of the most important things to do in fundraising is make it easy for the donor.
If you've listened to my fundraising training Creating Donor Evangelists, you'll remember me saying that "hiding" isn't an effective fundraising strategy. Every communication from you should have an easy way for donors to connect with you. Websites and fundraising letters should have easy-to-find mailing addresses and phone numbers. And, if you're using email to ask for money, include a link to a donation form.
I'm still shocked at the number of emails I get from nonprofits that don't include a link to a donation form. If the email is well-written and compelling, how is a donor to respond? Without an easy-to-find link to a donation form, you're leaving the donor hanging.
Whatever your call to action is, make it easy to respond.
For what it's worth, sending them to a form that they're supposed to print out and mail in is not easy. And, personally, I've never understood why nonprofits have a pledge form on the web. When I go to a website to make a gift, I want to do it right now. That's the nature of the web. So make it easy.
If you can afford a real-time credit card processing page, great! But if you already have a merchant account, this needn't be anything more sophisticated than a secure form on a website that gets sent by encrypted email to your server. You retrieve the information and then manually process the gift. (Your IT person or nearest high school student should be able to tell you how to do this.)
While you're at it, why not put a link in your email signature file? If you're not familiar with what an "email signature" is, check out Nancy Schwartz's great email signature article.
In my fundraising for Inland Hospital, I usually use the words "easily" and "securely" when encouraging people to donate at my site. I want reassure people that giving online is simple and safe.
We don't get many gifts this way...yet. But more and more people are feeling comfortable paying bills online. And in this economic climate, sending a fundraising letter by email can be a lot cheaper than sending one by direct mail.
For great information on using email to raise money, check out posts like this at Jeff Brooks' DonorPowerBlog.com.