Nonprofit Consulting: Tips and Tricks for Successful Email Fundraising
Nonprofit Consulting • One of the hottest topics in nonprofit consulting is how to craft successful fundraising emails. • With the competition being brutal for every contribution dollar, you need your message to reach and move your donors. • To accomplish your goals, you must know everything there is to know about email fundraising. • To help, we’ve used our experience in nonprofit consulting, as well as industry research, to develop a list of email best practices. • The suggestions are divided into four sections: • Distribution, Content, Lists and Evaluation
Nonprofit Consulting Nonprofit Consulting Tips for Email Distribution • According to industry research, the vast majority of email recipients don’t have separate business and personal email accounts. • - Or, if they do, they often are routed to one inbox. - So, don’t worry about getting one account or the other. - If the email account is valid, chances are very good the recipient will receive it whether it’s a business or personal account. • Conventional wisdom used to say weekdays, especially Tuesdays and Wednesdays, were the best days to send emails. • - However, the weekend, surprisingly, is the new “it” time. • - Research shows the highest click-through rates happen on Saturday and Sunday. • - And, the most “unsubscribes” happen on Monday and Tuesday.
Nonprofit Consulting Nonprofit Consulting Tips for Email Distribution • Time of day for nonprofit emails seems to be between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. • - During this time frame, most recipients open and click emails. • Don’t forget about mobile! • - Recent stats indicate over 80% of people read their email on smart phones. • - If your fundraising email can’t be easily read on a mobile device, it will be deleted and you’ve lost a potential donor. • Over time, you’ll learn your recipients’ behaviors regarding your emails. • - As patterns emerge, you should begin to establish schedules and content based on this behavior.
Nonprofit Consulting Nonprofit Consulting Tips for Content • Don’t deviate from your message – stay on track and keep it relevant. • - Donors give because they want to help others; so keep their motivation in mind when you craft your message. • - Always get to know your donors and tailor your messages to them. • Think carefully about your subject line since it has the potential to cause your donor to hit “open” or “delete.” • - Industry research shows words like “e-newsletter”, “issue”, “week’s”, “edition”, “survey”, “learn”, “now” and “post” in the subject line tend to improve the odds of having the email opened. • - As you can expect, your subject line needs to grab attention quickly and compel the reader to open the email. If you equate your subject line to a headline in a newspaper or advertisement, you’re on the right track.
Nonprofit Consulting Nonprofit Consulting Tips for Content • Incorporate several links within your email in copy, graphics and photos. • - By doing so, you’ll have a better click through rate and fewer unsubscribe requests. • - Make sure readers are given many opportunities to click through to your call-to-action. • Create valuable content that your reader will want to save. • - If you incorporate important information like facts, statistics, interesting stories and other reference material, your reader is more likely to hang on to your email.
Nonprofit Consulting Nonprofit Consulting Tips for Content • Be careful of relying on graphics to tell the story. • - You want donors to read your story in text. • - Then you don’t have to worry about email settings making your message unreadable by preventing graphics from showing. • - Use concise language, effective calls to action and a link to your website for more detailed information. • Sometimes the desired end result gets lost in the email. • - Make sure your email stays focused on what you need the reader to do, whether you want him/her to take action or make a donation. • - They must have ample opportunities to click on links that take them to the landing page that will accomplish the task at hand.
Nonprofit Consulting Nonprofit Consulting Tips for Mailing Lists • Be cautious of purchasing email lists from third parties. • - The problem stems from the people on the list having no relationship with your nonprofit. • - Generally, a better tactic is to build an email list from the names and addresses of people who already have an association with your organization. • Explain to people who receive your printed materials that you would like to communicate with them via email to save money on printing and postage. • - You may be able to demonstrate how much more money you can put toward your cause by communicating electronically. • - In exchange for an email address, you can provide a benefit, like some new information.
Nonprofit Consulting Nonprofit Consulting Tips for Mailing Lists • Using social media, like Facebook and Twitter, can provide opportunities for people to sign up for your eNewsletter or other programs. • Just like on social media, you should have a sign up form on your website too. • - Anyone who visits your site should easily find a simple form to enter their email address. • Consider conducting a promotion online or at your next event. • - Giveaway something of value, like an iPad and announce the winner via email. • - In exchange for the cost of the giveaway, you’ll collect a bunch of good email addresses.
Nonprofit Consulting Nonprofit Consulting Tips for Evaluation • Even if you follow all the best practices, you still want to test your fundraising emails. • - Good emails can be made better. You may find by tweaking your subject line, design, content, distribution time or other variable improves your results. • - So how do you test? Here’s a simple split testing technique we recommend to our nonprofit consulting clients: • Create two emails and send each to a separate 10% segment of your list. • Monitor and evaluate the responses. • Determine which email was most successful and then send that one to the remaining 80% of your list.
Nonprofit Consulting Nonprofit Consulting Tips for Evaluation • Every marketing campaign must be measured for effectiveness. • - The typical way to evaluate a campaign is to track results against the investment. • - Your fundraising email is no different. • - You need to measure the email donation results against the investment to determine your return. • - Most email fundraising campaigns begin with return on investment (ROI) goals and then the campaign results are measured against these goals to determine success.
Nonprofit Consulting • Because of its many benefits, email fundraising has become one of the most widely used fundraising tools available today. • Nonprofit consulting firms recommend email fundraising for its relative simplicity, speed and affordability. • By adhering to these tips, you’ll be able to improve your email program ROIs. • IPM Advancement offers over 75 years of accumulated nonprofit consulting experience. • We typically begin a client engagement by auditing annual fundraising, membership or advocacy programs.
Nonprofit Consulting • During this process, IPM Advancement examines the entire annual giving program in terms of donor communications, organization history, database issues, donor demographic and psychographic profiles, fundraising history, pipeline development, internal and external challenges, and more. • Our goal is to create greater clarity for our nonprofit consulting clients over their annual giving, membership and advocacy programs, and then help them achieve higher levels of success.
About the Author Edward Phillips, MBA, is Chief Creative Officer of IPM Advancement, a leading non profit fundraising company. Visit us at http://www.ipmadvancement.com or call 623-687-3908 for more information about Nonprofit Consulting.