Back to Basics: How to Drive More Email Revenue Before the Nonprofit Fiscal Year Ends
For many organizations, the end of the nonprofit fiscal year can be a challenging time, with escalated pressure to achieve budget goals. Often, nonprofit leaders will look to their direct-response fundraising programs to fill budget shortfalls in the few remaining weeks of the year. And due to its speed of deployment and response, email marketing is typically the medium of choice.
When the clock is ticking, what can fundraisers do to quickly increase email campaign response and revenue?
By incorporating a few fundamental fundraising techniques, you may be able to reinvigorate a stagnant fundraising program. Consider using these “back to basics” tactics to earn quick wins for your next email campaign.
- Increase the number of appeals. Fundraisers know that if we don’t ask, donors won’t give. Simply increasing the number of appeals will generate more revenue, especially when leading up to a campaign deadline. Carefully monitor response rates when you increase frequency to make sure you are not oversaturating the audience. Also consider extending the number of weeks the email campaign is in market to build awareness and increase momentum to the campaign’s conclusion.
- Drive to a deadline. Anchor the campaign with a deadline. Choose the last day of the month to leverage the natural countdown to month end. Prominently promote the deadline in the email design, message copy and supporting assets, such as on the donation page.
- Tune up impact message points. Donors want to know how their gift will make a difference. Refine email messaging to emphasize the impact of donors’ giving in real, tangible ways, such as the number of life-saving new treatments developed, the breakthroughs in research made possible thanks to donors’ support and how donors’ dollars are put to work to deliver on the organization’s mission. Too often, fiscal-year-end messaging will focus on the organization instead of its beneficiaries. Highlight how every donation supports the cause and organizational mission in critical, essential ways.
- Make the email easy to scan. You only have a few seconds to capture the donor’s attention. Use a variety of techniques to maximize the ease and speed of readership; for example, break up dense copy with bullet points, feature three to four key message points in a call-out box in the email body and use graphics to illustrate important facts.
- Use compelling subject lines. Strong subject lines capture attention in the inbox. Keep it simple, direct and relevant. When possible, test different options, personalization and number of words to determine what drives better response. Leverage the deadline for subject lines, such as “[Firstname], when every minute counts” or “Deadline: Midnight” to heighten urgency.
- Cross-promote on the website. Use supporting digital assets, such as a homepage banner, interstitials and paid digital advertising, to create a seamless, “surround-sound” experience. These integrated experiences promote the campaign and maximize opportunities to attract and convert donors.
Sometimes, simple changes can yield big returns. By revisiting a few fundamental fundraising practices that are often overlooked, you, too, will soon be toasting the successful end of your fiscal year.
Eve Smith is an experienced fundraiser with more than 20 years of nonprofit direct response marketing expertise. As senior director of client strategy at Merkle, Eve brings extensive knowledge and practice with integrated strategy, omnichannel fundraising and marketing, and program innovation. She specializes in both scaling up already-successful fundraising programs to raise more funds and crafting new programs that leverage peer-to-peer fundraising and social giving to bring in new revenue.
At Merkle, her clients have included major national health charities, international relief and faith-based organizations and animal welfare nonprofits, among others. Before joining Merkle, Eve was lead consultant to national cause-based nonprofits and worked with leading nonprofits and foundations to advance their online marketing and fundraising programs.