Using E-mail to Engage
It's important for organizations to vary their e-mails so they aren't all asks, he says.
"Figure out how to have a communication program that includes a lot of e-mails that are about sharing content, engaging them in other ways. Maybe it's an online petition, an advocacy petition or a survey," Haji adds. "That's actually a real best practice for our clients that have had very successful results. [Organizations] like the Humane Society or CARE or Save the Children or Oxfam have really done a good job with that. It's basically engaging people with an e-newsletter or online advocacy action alert or something like that in ways that are not asking for money so that it really feels like there's a building of a relationship."
With prospects and donors receiving a plethora of e-mails on a daily basis, the bar to generate excitement from an e-mail and elicit an action from a recipient is high. Nonprofits that can come up with creative ways to get prospects' and donors' attention will have the best results building relationships and getting donations in an already saturated e-mail landscape, Haji says, citing as an innovative use of e-mail a GetActive environmental client that asked people for their e-mail address, promising to send a report of who's polluting in the respondent's neighborhood.
Some additional things Haji recommends nonprofits keep in mind as far as e-mail fundraising include:
- Keep key content "above the fold" or the top of an e-mail. "The reason it's called 'above the fold' is a lot of people are reading e-mail with a preview pane, so a lot of people are just scanning through using the preview function and really only looking at the top paragraph or paragraph-and-a-half," Haji notes.
- Maintain a consistent "from" name. In the world of spam, Haji says, getting a donor, recipient or subscriber used to a specific name and specific organization builds a consistency that helps not only with spam filters but "also just for the world where people are scanning through hundreds of e-mails, it helps them quickly recognize your newsletter as opposed to mixing it up."