Grooming Your E-list
In my inbox this week was an e-mail advertisement for a new, all-natural approach to dealing with hair loss. Fortunately, that’s one thing I don’t need to worry about.
But the marketing pitch did get me thinking about all the excitement around “growth.” The increase in U.S. postal rates has all the direct-response fundraisers I know focused on list growth — specifically, growing their e-mail files.
While I can’t vouch for the latest hair-growth remedies, I can assure you that the following list-growth strategies will make you more attractive — at least to your executive director — because they work.
Encourage the “pass-along”
Rather than hoping people will pass along an e-mail, ask them to do it. The Human Rights Campaign, with the help of Madeline Stanionis, CEO and co-founder of Watershed, a consulting firm that helps organizations build, grow and sustain relationships with constituents online, launched two identical advocacy campaigns, but only one took recipients to a Tell-a-Friend landing page. The campaigns got the same response rates, but the one that landed on the Tell-a-Friend page was much more successful in getting results: 46,000 actions and 6,000 new sign-ups compared with 20,000 actions and 500 new sign-ups.
Organizations are finding that online advocacy campaigns not only build lists, but also are an effective vehicle for converting supporters to donors. The International Rescue Committee collected more than 15,000 names from an advocacy petition focused on Uganda. Then it sent a follow-up fundraising e-appeal, which was more than twice as successful with IRC’s online activists as with non-activists. The percentage of recipients who donated was two and a half times higher for online activists (those who signed the Uganda petition) compared with non-activists.
Another version of a pass-along is giving volunteers the online tools to create personal fundraising Web pages and send donation appeals via e-mail to their networks of family and friends. Easter Seals is one of several nonprofit organizations that successfully use this strategy.