E-mail That Matters
Since Sept. 1, I have received 55 e-mails from 19 charities. Some are informational or educational. Others are purely to raise funds. I received a high of seven from two charities and only one each from five others.
I have no idea if I am "normal," as this is certainly not a scientific study. However, I do know I am seeing an increase in fundraising e-mail — no surprise there given that we are now in the all-important last quarter of the year. E-mail is an important player in our overall fundraising strategy.
At the same time that volume is increasing, it's getting harder than ever for our e-mails to "survive" the journey from our computers to recipients' computers. Gmail (Google) — which also powers a lot of business domains — provides sophisticated sorting of e-mail by the service provider, and our e-mails may not end up in the main mailboxes of the people who receive them. (Click here to read a helpful article by KerstenDirect.)
And even if our e-mails manage the uphill fight to arrive relatively unscathed in the inbox, much of them are likely to be deleted ... unopened and unread.
What this means for fundraisers is that we have to focus on sending e-mail that is relevant and addressed to people with whom we have true relationships. Our subject lines have to stand out. Our e-mails have to have value.
Yeah, yeah — everybody knows that. So why are some nonprofits still sending me boring e-mails with boring subject lines? Why am I hearing from some nonprofits that I have no relationship with? Maybe they've forgotten ...
Cheap is no excuse for no value
Yes, e-mail is much cheaper to send than direct mail or newsletters. And because of that, we are content with low open rates and even lower response rates. Instead, let's become champions for e-mails that have purpose, a purpose that helps move people closer to making donations. Some may directly ask, others may be more for information and education, but they all should be part of a total strategy to recruit, retain or reactivate your donors.
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.