Focus On: E-philanthropy: E-volving with the Times
The effort dropped a combination of biweekly and weekly messages to 14,000 opt-in subscribers who requested information from HSUS’ Web site (www.hsus.org). The newsletter featured streaming video images of various animals, accompanied by news, tips and online-donation capabilities. One particular newsletter presented a video of the organization’s president explaining why a small monthly donation amounts to a sizable annual gift.
ENT and HSUS use a combination of Flash and Windows Media to ensure readability, but in the event of technical difficulties, embedded text in the e-mail instructs those recipients who don’t see the video to click a link to view it in their Web browsers.
Mann says most of HSUS’ messages contain a soft ask, since the organization is not using e-mail to directly solicit donations but, rather, to build program awareness.
“We receive a much higher response rate and open rate from e-mails that contain video,” Mann notes. “In the first several months, the rate of donations from the [pet-owner audience] that we developed was much lower because it was a new audience, but as we kept delivering this message to them, they really came through in a big way.”
Before the streaming video e-newsletter campaign launched, HSUS had no monthly Internet givers. Now, Internet donors compose approximately 10 percent of its total monthly contributors.
Youth group bowls a strike
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the largest and oldest youth-mentoring organization in the United States, has reason to celebrate its centennial anniversary this year. After employing an e-mail fundraising strategy in 2003 with the assistance of Internet software and services firm Kintera, the organization’s overall online giving increased by 210 percent from the previous year.
According to Robin Palley, vice president of marketing and communications, BBBSA’s long-term mission is to serve 1 million children by the year 2010. Today, the organization serves 200,000 children, ages 6 through 18, in 5,000 communities.