May 5, 2015
Amid a variety of social media, fundraising emails are still an effective strategy for engaging donors. While Facebook and Twitter allow you to connect with supporters in real time, you can deliver longer, individualized correspondence via email.
There's one catch: Sending automatic e-blasts and appeals to a mass mailing list can result in a lot of dropped messages, and many missed opportunities to direct supporters to an online donation form.
Qgiv has recently found that email open rates are around 16%. Depending on a nonprofit's size, this can translate to hundreds or even thousands of unopened emails.
When a reader marks one message as spam, every subsequent message from the sender is directly routed into the junk folder. So, how do you keep your audience from marking your emails as spam?
Don't send unwanted mail
One of the best ways to manage e-blasts is to make sure that you're only sending them to those who have voluntarily subscribed, according to The Nonprofit Times. When a new person opts to receive emails, immediately send a request for verification that the email address is correct. This way, the person on the other end can confirm that you're not filling their inbox uninvited.
If you fail to include a single-click unsubscribe, readers are likely to get frustrated and mark a message as spam. This can be harmful to your cause if a recipient wishes only to unsubscribe from some emails, such as newsletters, but would otherwise welcome fundraising appeals.
Organize your lists
To combat waning interest, be careful to only send communications that are relevant to the interests of each recipient. This is where segmenting your email list becomes helpful. Categorize your contacts lists according to what you know about each potential donor's interests and capacities.
For example, you probably don't want to send requests for large donations to college students, so they should be on a list separate from high-capacity donors. It's also likely those college students wouldn't be interested in attending a fundraising gala, but they might want to participate in running a half-marathon.
Though segmentation is a marketing term, it's equally useful for nonprofits in gaining support for their charitable work.
Look through your donor management database to identify which email recipients have become inactive. Try to reinvigorate their engagement by reaching out in other ways, such as a making a phone call.
Any time an email address bounces back, delete it from your master list. You don't want to waste resources on dead-end correspondence. Cleaning up your contacts also ensures that your perceptions are accurate when it comes to how many supporters you're engaging. In turn, you'll be able to develop a solid email strategy.