Despite the problems surrounding email, non-profits continue to experiment with it.
That is because a significant number of donors and constituents want emailed information. According to Penelope Burk, author of Thanks! A Guide to Donor-Centred Fundraising, 50 percent of donors prefer to receive updates by email.
It's going to take time to iron out all the bugs around technology-based communication. But, there is no doubt it is here to stay.
The CAN-SPAM Act
was instituted by the government in 2003 to cut down on misleading emails. Follow it to the letter or risk being fined. Most of the rules that apply to commercial emails apply as well to nonprofits.
2. Personalize Your Email.Without personalization, your email looks like junk-mail and may be discarded. Personalization is also a good communication tool. People like to be addressed by their names and become more open to your message. Email software makes it easy to insert your constituent's name into your email messages.
3. Follow the Principles of Good Direct MailPersonalize, write a compelling case, and make it clear what you want the reader to do. But, in addition, spend time making your landing page effective so that the person will take the action you wish, whether it is agreeing to receive more information, purchase something, or say yes to a donation.
Work hard on your subject line. It should have no hype. Do mention the name of your organization so that it is immediately recognizable. Email recipients are more wary than ever of hype of any kind so avoid all-caps, exclamation marks, and hyper-active words.
5. Give the Recipient Something of ValueProvide the receiver with good content, such as an update on your fundraising campaign, or timely advice. Donors receive way too many communications from too many organizations. Make yours relevant, interesting, and valuable.
6. Don't Be There Today but Gone Tomorrow
Commit to email communication for the long haul. A very small percentage of donations are generated through email but the numbers are growing. Other communications are a cultivation tool and that takes time. Repetition builds confidence. Recipients are more likely to open emails that they have seen before and that arrive on a regular basis.