You Asked—Fundraising Questions Answered, Part Two
How do we grow our email list from the existing donor base? How do we turn an email address into a direct mail address? I chose to combine these two questions because, while I have read many strategies for doing one or the other, I still think it gets down to one thing: You have to offer the person something that makes it worthwhile to share the missing piece of data. I'm not talking about a keychain if they update their records (thought I am not opposed to small premiums as incentives); rather, what is the content you can offer to mail to email supporters, or offer to email to mail supporters? For example, say you are going to have a fundraising campaign to raise $XX,XXX for project Y. In the mail piece, tell the donors that you will be emailing a report on the project in three months (or whatever is realistic), so please provide your email address. Include a statement like, "If you don't have an email address, please check here if you would like a mailed copy." By phrasing it that way, some donors will share their email rather than falsely say they don't have one. For email, offer some content that is desirable but only available through the mail—a personalized certificate, a photo book from a project, a mug, etc. Everyone won't respond, but if what you offer has perceived value to the person, he or she may be willing to share more contact information. Side note: Be sure you are following the CAN-SPAM law for your emails. To learn more, check out this article.
Where do I start? OK, this one is tough. Some of the answer depends on whether you are a local organization or have a bigger territory, but I am assuming this is a question most often asked by the person starting a nonprofit at a more local level. So, right or wrong, that's where I'll focus. I have watched a grassroots nonprofit grow from a very small funding base five years ago to a solid nonprofit with growing programs and a growing supporter base today. For fundraising, they used a combination of print, online and events—but (I think) the biggest reason for their success is an executive director who is relentless. He isn't afraid to ask anyone to support the nonprofit. Elected officials endorse the work, business leaders host events, churches recruit volunteers, the local newspaper covers their activities—in short, there are so many people involved that success is almost inevitable. On top of that, this nonprofit regularly seeks out research showing they are effective and then shares those results with donors and potential supporters. The executive director is such a passionate and tireless voice for the organization and he's everywhere that could lead to more support and supporters. In my opinion, that's a huge factor in success: Take advantage of every available means to interrupt someone and get them to think about your organization and even donate.