Clutter Can Kill Your Fundraising
It's hard to argue with inbox clutter when we're confronted with dozens of emails first thing in the morning, just waiting for us to interact with them. Like most of you, my typical interaction is to click "delete." Nothing personal, but I can read emails all day long or do work. I bet you can relate to that.
But some lucky people get to read all the emails for a living, and as a result, they have some excellent insights. That's why I was quick to download a report from NextAfter called "5 Ways to Cut Through the Clutter With Your Year-End Fundraising." (If you didn't download it, you can do so here.) It's 10 pages of easy-to-read type and well worth your time.
The key message running through the report (in my opinion) is that over time, when everyone adopts "best practices," they become overused. My personal beef is when a great concept that makes perfect sense for one organization is adapted — and jimmy-rigged — by another. Think about the dime used by March of Dimes; it makes perfect sense for that organization, but most of the other coin mailings seem to me to be a major stretch. Or the brown lunch bag used as the outer envelope for a food bank; it loses something when it's used by an organization that doesn't provide food, I think.
But proven facts outweigh my often-wrong-but-seldom-in-doubt gut reaction, so here's a one-point summary of what NextAfter learned after analyzing more than 17,000 emails sent last year:
Everyone sends email on the same days at the same time. Be it day of week, time of day or time of month, there are clearly times of email overload. After all, we all read the same reports and then set up our email send schedules — seemingly in harmony with all the other nonprofits. I don't deny I'm guilty on this. But at least I am in good company ...
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.