Turning Fundraising on Its Head
The story of hope is the engagement mechanism that gets people to open the newsletter. Inside the story is a small solicitation to donate, but the main goal is to get recipients to click through to the website, where they can find out more and, of course, donate.
However, the e-newsletter does have a "give a gift of hope" section directly below the story that links to its donation payment-processing page. Depending on the month, the message slightly varies — for instance, in April, the institute ran a matching-gift campaign, so that was highlighted in the "give a gift of hope" section.
There are also typically four to six other smaller articles about events that happened across Hope Institute programs, upcoming events, articles from the blog and other relevant information.
"We typically try to mix it up where there's a couple of different smaller stories," Brown says. "For instance, in June there was a story about our graduation ceremony at our learning center, and then there was a short piece about the Toyota 100 Cars for Good contest that was coming up. [The Hope Institute received a Toyota van.] And there were two short pieces for 5Ks that other organizations are doing on our behalf, so we want to help promote those."
The newsletter goes out to approximately 3,800 subscribers and continues to grow. The key to staying on schedule, Brown says, is in the planning. Hope plans out the content for the entire year one year ahead of time, so everyone in the organization knows exactly what story is going to be featured in the December issue, for instance, at the beginning of the year. And the e-newsletter schedule is integrated with the direct-mail program.
"Every month our direct-mail program sends out anywhere from 30,000 to 250,000 appeals nationwide. That appeal every month features a certain child that's receiving services through us. That same appeal is what becomes our story of hope online for that month," Brown says. "When you go to our website, the first pictures that you see that month are of that child that's featured in our direct-mail appeal and in our e-newsletter. So everything works together."