The Importance of Follow-up and Thank You
The recently released 2009 eCampaigning Review Study analyzed the activity of more than 2 million supporters from 50 international nonprofit organizations and found that 60 percent of nonprofits present a compelling argument for supporters to take action, but 70 percent of them didn't send a follow-up e-mail within one month. What's more, 37 percent of nonprofits failed to send thank-you e-mails.
The study was sponsored by Advocacy Online, and researched and written by Duane Raymond of Fairsay and consultant Jess Day. FundRaising Success was able to catch up with Raymond and Day recently to find out what tips they think the study results hold for nonprofit organizations.
FundRaising Success: Given the findings that many organizations don't send follow up e-mails within a month and many don't send thank-you e-mails, what advice can you give to organizations?
Duane Raymond: I'd generally suggest ensuring they have a planned supporter journey for campaigning supporters that includes a welcome route — and that they follow it. Planning and following a story arc over each campaign would help, too. Most organizations don't seem to put much planning into e-campaigning, and they should if they wish to be successful at it.
FS: Why is it important to send a follow-up e-mail within one month or send a thank-you e-mail?
DR: A thank-you e-mail — in conjunction with a thank-you page — are key opportunities for engaging supporters further at the time they are warmest to the organization (having just taken an action) and best placed to do something more (since you know exactly what they just did). Even if people don't opt-in for further e-mail updates, the thank-you email is still allowed to be sent and it is potentially (if you aren't good at engaging) the last e-mail you can send them! If 70 percent of people (from the performance benchmarks — but I view this as too high) only do one action, your thank-you e-mail and page may be the last opportunity to engage them — so it is highly strategic and thus why it should be used.
Jess Day: I'd second what Duane has said about the importance of follow-up. I was really surprised how many organizations were not using the opportunity to communicate with supporters at their most receptive moment — and of campaign planning. The very low figures (with Duane's caveat) for re-engagement and also for overlap between lists, suggest that there is a lot of scope for improvement here.
The only point I would add is that I noticed that very few organizations used thank-you pages and e-mails to reinforce basic campaign messages. Obviously, the one-month cut-off was fairly arbitrary, but I think many campaigners forget that their supporters are not living and breathing the campaign each day the way they are themselves. A month later (or even less!) an ordinary member of the public is going to have done and read a lot of other stuff and may well not remember very clearly the details of the action they took. Follow-up messages often assumed a lot of knowledge/recollection — this is especially a problem when campaigns have nontransparent names (e.g., see if you can guess what "Stop harming, start helping" is about!).
Read more about or download the report here.