- Getting organized
- Remembering that content is (still/again) king
Work these initiatives into the part of your online fundraising plan dedicated to email marketing:
- Plan, plan, plan... Develop an email messaging program for communicating regularly with donors and prospects. Think about e-newsletters, action alerts and/or event alerts. Make your e-newsletters worth reading!
- Build your list. Don't buy a list--learn how to build one yourself. Aside from newsletter sign-ups, give prospects reasons to join your list--give them useful information (think value!), consider offering an incentive like a raffle for a gift certificate, and be sure to snag sign-ups at your events.
- Strategize and set goals. Determine what you hope to gain and what you're shooting for with your email communications. Do you want to increase the size of your supporter pool? Do you want to increase your subscribers by a certain amount? Do you have a current email plan that you'd like to improve? Set some metrics for yourself (clickthough rate, etc.).
- Ask for direction. How often should you email your list? What types of messages do your donors want to hear? Ask them! Conduct a survey. Call a few top donors. Make e-communications a topic during your next volunteer meeting.
Content and Campaign Tips:
- Get creative. Think about targeted messages for people who have expressed interests in certain subjects. Consider the roles of your various supporters (donors, volunteers, prospects) and what you want to communicate to/with them.
- Avoid gloom and doom. People like to feel hopeful, not helpless. (Read more.) Allow your messaging to cater to this tendency: Include attainable goals ("Every $15 donation gives a dog its shots!" "We're already 80 percent of the way to our goal!"). As Katya and Mark remind us, people are not ATMs, and they're involved with your organization for a number of personal reasons--sadness and hopelessness not among them.
- Mix it up. When considering your email strategy for the months ahead, think outside the fundraising-appeal box. And, when you are using email as a fundraising tool, keep your messages varied. (Check out an example.)
- ...Test, test, test. You're not a mind-reader. (No, I can't prove it, but I can assume not.) With that in mind, test your email communications. Send one version of your newsletter to half of your subscribers and a different format to the other half. Which would have better clickthrough results? If you plop down a pair of fresh eyes in front of the versions, which one does your friend think is more readable? What do the results mean?