E-mail Appends: The Good, the Bad and the Realistic
As with any new industry, the early days of online fundraising were filled with both success and failure. Some organizations quickly found a new stream of revenue … while others found themselves struggling to get out of that black hole known as the spam filter.
Now in 2008, a year where political donors broke every record for online giving — even contributing $10 million on a Web site in one night — organizations can move forward with online outreach knowing that others have blazed the trail before them.
Over the last five years, fundraisers have found a successful model for reaching out to their donors online in the form of the well-coordinated e-mail append.
The e-mail append at its best takes a portion of your donors and activists — those with whom you have established relationships — finds corresponding e-mail addresses and gives these donors a chance to decide if they want to hear from you via e-mail. It then appends these names to your files.
Before I outline the difference between a good e-mail append and the type likely to relegate you to the spam folder for all time, let’s address the immediate concerns most nonprofits raise when considering an e-mail append.
1. I’m afraid an e-mail append will make me spam!
This fear speaks to the difference between a good e-mail append and a bad one. The early days of e-mail append certainly generated a few horror stories. Fortunately, the industry has really learned from its mistakes. Today, most reputable vendors send welcome e-mails on your behalf — on their own servers — and only return the valid e-mail addresses that did not opt out of e-mail communication. This way, when you start e-mailing these addresses, you’re in the good graces of your donors and the Internet service providers.