It might not be the most sexy tool in your online arsenal, but recent success stories suggest email is still a very powerful component of any online fundraising strategy. So how do you take the standard email and turn it into an extraordinary tool for online philanthropy? Below are three tips to consider when building your email solicitation strategy.
Make it Easy: The same is true for any aspect of online giving – to generate gifts electronically, you have to make the process easy to navigate for your supporters. The general rule of thumb for online giving is to set up a process that requires no more than two steps (clicks) to get to your online giving information form where the donor enters their name, address, credit card info, etc. Is the same true of your email solicitations?
Also, don’t forget about mobile – do you have an stripped down mobile giving site that makes it easy to make a gift from a smart phone? A lot of your donors will be reading your email from their mobile phone. If you don’t have an easy-to-use mobile giving process set up, you could be losing gifts.
- Give Them Something for Opening Your Email: An over-arching theme for your online/social media strategy should be the attempt at delivering value to your supporters through everything you post/share/send. All too often, that focus on value can be lost when an email is sent out. This doesn’t mean you should overcrowd an email with too much content, but make your supporters happy they opened you message by giving them something interesting or “valuable” for their time.
When we talk about “value,” we’re not necessarily saying you need to give something away (tickets or merchandise, for example). Instead, “value” means something your supporters would find interesting, funny, or moving that relates to your organization. As is often the case, the Humane Society of the United States gives us a great example of providing value in an email with this message containinig a link to their clever infographic on the Canadian seal slaughter…Good content is “valuable” because it reinforces a donor’s decision to support your organization. Can you embed a video into your emails that details how past gifts have helped your further your cause? How about a thank you from your CEO? Every ask online is also an opportunity to share your message about why giving matters. The same is true of your email solicitations.
- Build Smart Lists: During a campaign, your email supporters can become your biggest fundraisers either through their own email accounts or on social networks. When developing email lists, separate one for “most frequent donors” or, better yet, “highest Klout scores” (Klout is a method of measuring a person’s influence online). Then, during the campaign, send pre-written text, email, and social network messages to those lists, asking them to copy and paste the messages into texts, emails, and social network updates to their friends. It’s an easy way to build a grassroots campaign, because it takes little effort on your supporters’ parts (they don’t even have to give to boost your fundraising!).
For more tips on email fundraising, check out Blackbaud’s “Raise more money by avoiding “one-size-fits-all” email appeals“ and “Click-through rates, compelling links and your end-of-year fundraising appeal“.
And for info on how BWF can help you build a strategy for online fundraising, visit BWF.com.