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At the heart of launching a successful fundraising drive is an effective email campaign. Be sure that your donor solicitation efforts achieve your revenue goals by following these best practices for your next email fundraising campaign.

#1: Be sure those you’re soliciting know what to expect. Donors and others you’re soliciting don’t like to be surprised by more or less emails than they anticipate. Let email recipients know right from the start what information you’ll be sending them, and how often. This goes for your regular monthly eNewsletters, and other email communications, including fundraising emails.

#2: Don’t Over-Promise Then Under-Deliver. In order to increase open rates, sometimes development marketers promise the moon with deceptive subject lines, then fail to deliver on the promise. Remember, open rates are only one criteria for judging the success of your email fundraising campaign. Conversion rates (or how often your recipients take action as a result of your email) are the real test of the effectiveness of your email solicitations. If you don’t deliver on the promise of your subject line, then your donors and prospective donors might decide to give elsewhere.

#3: Personalize Your Emails, But Vet the Information First. Personalizing emails is an effective strategy; however, it’s counterproductive if the name on the email isn’t right. Be sure to vet the information for accuracy, before doing a blanket SEND to your email marketing list.

#4: Segment Your Mailing List: Email segmenting can be very effective for target marketing to various demographic groups. You can segment your list by age, marital status, income level, when a donor is in the giving cycle, etc., and send content and messages that appeal directly to each specific segment.

#5: Test The Effectiveness of Your Emails Before You Send Them. In addition to testing personalization, you can also test the effectiveness of your emails by testing which pieces of content, calls to action and subject lines have the highest click-through rates. Divide your email list into two equal groups and send an A/B split test of your email to see which performs best.

#6: Focus on Content Versus Donations. When the main topic of your email is ‘Donate Now’ versus content that’s of interest to your supporters, your email fundraising campaign could come up short. Focus the content of your emails on what’s of interest to your supporters from their point of view. Establish trust and make an emotional connection before you close for greater impact and results.

#7: Include a Call to Action (CTA). The key to any effective solicitation is having one or multiple calls to action in your email. A call to action is some actionable, concrete next step for your donor or prospective donor to take that brings them into the fold of your organization, and ultimately, closer to writing a check, or making a donation online. Some examples of calls to action include:

  • Learn How You Can Help
  • Click to Volunteer
  • Sign Up for Our Monthly Newsletter
  • Volunteer Today
  • Donate Now.

#8: Proof and Reproof for Spelling and Grammar Errors. Donors often judge an organization by what’s in the details, i.e., whether or not your marketing and fundraising communications are error-free. If you’re the author of an email or eNewsletter, be sure to proofread your draft multiple times for spelling and grammar errors. Then, ask a colleague that has a keen eye for detail to proofread the copy again, and again.  Online tools such as grammarly.com can also help.

 

Cape Cod Young Professionals (CCYP)–a nonprofit that recently celebrated its tenth year–was founded to help young professionals live, work and thrive year round on Cape Cod. Through the organization’s Shape the Cape initiative, CCYP offers a variety of programs including mentoring, networking, career and professional development, civic engagement, access to housing that’s affordable–and even scholarships—in response to young professionals’ requests for resources and support so they can build lives here on Cape Cod. Taking on such a groundbreaking mission requires revenue to fund the Shape the Cape initiative’s many programs. To to do this, CCYP launched a Giving Circle.

According to Matt Cronin, CCYP Board Chair and President of Boardwalk Business Group, a Giving Circle is a group of philanthropic individuals who donate money regularly throughout the year into a pool and decide where this money will be invested. The CCYP Giving Circle was launched so that CCYP members and sponsors could pool their donations and fund selected programs throughout the Cape that aid young professionals as they find good jobs, housing that’s affordable, become engaged in their communities, and build lives on Cape Cod. “The Giving Circle is a way to introduce young professionals to philanthropy in a way that’s impactful, but not too difficult on the budget,” offers CCYP Executive Director, Anne Van Vleck.

Per Cronin, the organization’s Giving Circle gave back $10,000 in 2016 during its first year to a host of area nonprofits to fund specific Shape the Cape initiatives. These included:

Career and Professional Development

  • $2,000 to the Cape Cod YMCA for their Teen Achievers Program
  • $2,000 to We Can to fund their GROW (Get Results From Others Wisdom)

Access to Housing That’s Affordable

  • $2,500 to the Housing Assistance Corporation to fund free courses in their Housing Assistance Corporation
  • $2,500 to Community Development Partnership to fund online First Time Homebuyer Education courses

Civic Engagement

  • $1,000 to Cape Cod Community College’s Support Community Engagement Speaker Series.

Cronin and Van Vleck are both members of CCYP’s Giving Circle, with a current initiative underway to add 90 new Giving Circle members in 90 days this fall. “Being part of a Giving Circle is a rewarding, fun, social group of philanthropic individuals that share the process of learning and investing together,” says Cronin enthusiastically. “People that become part of CCYP’s Giving Circle learn about many other nonprofits and their programs that may not have heard about these through each organization’s annual fundraising process. Also, the pooled donations make a much larger impact on the nonprofits receiving the grants than the typical individual donation could ($10-$20 per month). Finally, being part of a Giving Circle is a positive experience that tends to help members feel more empowered and engaged in community issues where they can actually enact change within their communities.” “Many hands make light the work,” adds Van Vleck. “As we grow and recruit friends, neighbors, co-workers and friends of friends to join CCYP’s Giving Circle, we have an even greater impact on our community…We’re on the ground floor of something truly exciting!”

As former Director of Membership for a large nonprofit membership organization, here are a few ‘golden rules’ I learned for turning members into sponsors:

  • Have Membership Ambassadors Make New Members Feel Welcome: Many times I’ve thought about becoming more involved in a nonprofit organization, but there was no one assigned to greet me as a newcomer and make me feel welcome. Breaking the ice for prospective members and new members will be worth its weight in gold (literally) as doing so quickly engages these people in the organization so they’re more approachable as sponsors.
  • Check in With New Members: Every nonprofit knows it takes time to cultivate and engage new members and turn them into potential sponsors. Having a Membership Ambassador check in with new members to get their feedback within a couple of months of joining is a great way to learn what’s working and what’s not. Let members know how much you appreciate their feedback, and stay in touch–especially as you implement their suggestions. This will go a long way toward engaging them as members and cultivating them as future sponsors.
  • Make Profitable Connections for Members: If a nonprofit organization can broker profitable connections for their members during monthly events, they’ll develop more engaged members–and potential sponsors–throughout the life of the organization. Let members know that your nonprofit is proactive about helping them make meaningful connections. Assign Membership Committee volunteers to each event, and let members know before the event that the committee is available to help them connect with others in the organization.
  • Reach Out to Business Owner Members: Small business owners especially appreciate when nonprofits are proactive about helping them market and promote their businesses through the organization. Many nonprofit organizations take great care to develop member benefits; however, oftentimes they don’t do a good job making sure members take advantage of these perks. Business owners understand the value of strategically sponsoring organizations and are ripe for the asking–that is once they feel the organization they support understands what they’re trying to achieve through their membership, and helps them reach their promotional goals.
  • Show Sponsors Measurable Results: There’s nothing that makes a sponsor happier to be invested in a nonprofit than seeing the results of their contributions. Nonprofit organizations that capture data and communicate measurable results periodically throughout the year to members and sponsors have a much easier time of meeting their fundraising goals. Current sponsors are more likely to increase their donations, and prospective sponsors are likely to begin giving–if they feel their dollars are making a meaningful and measurable difference.