All Hail the Mighty E-mail
Relationships with your constituents are built on respect, trust and communication — qualities realized when you demonstrate that your organization is worthy of supporters’ time, energy and money. As nonprofits embrace the Internet’s power, e-mail is emerging as an increasingly important communication tool. Nonprofits that learn the communication preferences of their donors and prospects will have the advantage when competing with similar organizations for donations.
Uses for e-mail
E-mail offers a cost-effective way for nonprofits to send personalized communications to donors, members, alumni and volunteers, and it enables constituents to respond to your call to action at their convenience. Once you determine which constituents prefer e-mail, use it as the vehicle for a variety of messaging. Assuming your organization already has a Web site, use e-mail to drive people to specific areas of your site, where they can:
- learn more about your mission;
- register for an event;
- make a donation or search volunteer opportunities; and
- review membership levels and benefits, and join online.
Steps to take
1. Build your address book. Before you can begin tailoring e-mails for specific groups of constituents, collect e-mail addresses. Don’t let the dynamic nature of e-mail accounts discourage you — many people prefer e-mail and will be more responsive to it. Implement ways to collect and update e-mail addresses. Add a subscription field to your homepage, and use any constituent interaction as an opportunity to collect e-mail addresses.
2. Identify the audience for your message. Begin by reviewing your data to determine the percentage of each constituent group for which you have e-mail addresses. Generally speaking, e-mail enables you to reach a younger, more diverse audience than direct mail typically does. However, this demographic is shifting, as seniors are the fastest-growing group of Internet adopters and e-mail users. A key benefit of e-mail is that it gives users the ability to quickly send customized messages at very little expense.