5-Minute Interview--Pat Grayson
5-Minute Interview: Pat Grayson
Jan. 10, 2006
By Abny Santicola, associate editor, FundRaising Success
Pat Grayson is assistant executive director for development for the Children's Aid Society, a New York-based organization that provides services to children and families in need of health, education and social services.
Here, she talks about her organization's e-mail fundraising efforts.
FundRaising Success: What role do e-mail campaigns play for your organization?
Pat Grayson: Basically in terms of our e-mails, we use them to notify our donors about our activities. E-mail communication includes "save the date" postcards for our different special fundraising events. Also, we e-mail our major individual donors with various correspondence about our roundtable events on different programs. We might feature a program on what's happening with our community school or teenage [sexual activity] prevention, pregnancy prevention, adoption/foster care services, independent youth aging out of foster care. Just a host of subjects. And [we] also notify our major donors about special events. We have various theater events where we invite major donors to join us for a reception or dinner and theater maybe. Whatever the recent Broadway event is.
Our extensive donor base provides us with a list of people who have already opted in, and the blasts that we send out are really to let them know what's happening, and we don't really say, "OK, send us your money." They contain more of a "learn more about our programs" or "buy now," if we're saying we have tickets available for a specific event.
FS: Who do you send e-mail campaigns to?
PG: The major individual donors we have a relationship with and who have requested e-mails. What we found is that it's really the younger donors who are much more responsive to using the Web site and to using the technology that have told us just to e-mail announcements or e-invitations. So we look very carefully at who we're going to send the e-mails to. In terms of our donor base, it's under 1,200 that we actually send the e-mails to. We have just under 5,000 e-mails on our database but just under 1,200 of those are current donors and the others include volunteers.
FS: What are some things you see as necessary in your e-mails?
FS: What are some tips you can give other nonprofits in terms of e-mail fundraising?
PG: The messages have to be uniform, [and] they have to be consistent, not just in direct mail on paper but in e-mail, in our public relations and our fundraising and all that we do -- so we have made more of a concerted effort within the last year to target our marketing and to have it as an agency-wide objective to have the same message. We embarked upon sort of a new marketing approach and campaign in the last year because we didn't want to send mixed messages, and because we are a large organization and we've been around for a long time, since 1853. We wanted to make sure that there wasn't confusion about what we do.
Our effort to appeal to the e-mail group is an effort to appeal to a younger group -- working professionals -- realizing that older people and senior citizens, quite frankly, are increasingly using e-mail too. So this is all an effort to broaden our base of support, to increase our overall awareness out there, to raise funds. To increase public awareness, but to market a common message.
Pat Grayson can be reached via http://www.childrensaidsociety.org