Email Fundraising: General

Email FundraisingOne of the most frustrating, and on-going challenges for churches, para church ministries and non-profit organizations is fundraising.  There are of course, some “tried and true” methods, but everyone is always looking for new ways to accomplish this goal. Technology is opening some new doors, and one of those is email fundraising.

Pathmaker Marketing LLC, an E-mail Marketing Firm, has been most successful in assisting their clients with e-mail fundraising. Truly E-Mail Marketing Specialists, they know that there are several things to keep in mind when you begin your email fundraising campaign.

First, you need to use your common sense.  You are, after all, raising money for a cause.  As a result, you are going to be most successful when you contact individuals who are already supporters of that cause.  Here, you do want to “preach to the choir.”  Your goal is not to solicit new supporters.  As a result, you will want to use your current database of supporters.  Again, this is not a “prospecting tool”!

You also need to consider that this program works best when it is part of an over-all communications strategy.  This includes utilizing the mail, phone, and “in person” contacts.  These all have their own individual strengths and, when combined with your e-mail campaign, will result in you being most effective.

As any Professional E-Mail Marketing Service will tell you, email has its own set of metrics.  First of all, you need to keep in mind that e-mail is always lower than direct mail.  It is, however, still profitable as there are no printing or postage charges.  Too, seldom will an email campaign yield “monster” gifts, as the largest we have seen were between $1000 – $2000 each.  Keeping this all in mind should allow you to ensure that your expectations are within the parameters of not only possibility but probability, allowing you to view the results with realistic insight.

Just as in any mode of fundraising, you must remember that “people give to people” more than organizations.  As a result, you want your e-mail to come from your chief fundraiser, such as your CEO or pastor.  Have the email look like a letter and be personalized.  “Dear Fred” goes a lot farther than “Dear Friend.”

To “enhance the chance” of filling your coffers via an email campaign, you need a substantial e-mail list.  As a result, you may need to go an E-Mail Marketing Company and spend some money to help bolster your list.  Do know that a really small list can be cost prohibitive for using HTML, and you may want to employ TEXT as a result.

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How to Use Animated GIFs for Email Fundraising Impact

concept mouse on the moneyWe have emphasized the importance of a tailored message in your email fundraising campaign and animated GIF is just another way to infuse more personality to it. Although this technique is no longer as famous as it used to be in Internet business marketing promotion still, it’s very effective and as a professional fundraiser it’s still worth your time.

With the exception of Outlook, animated GIFs are compatible with most email clients and therefore, you can be sure that your animation will be viewed by your recipient. Here are a few tips on how to do it:

  1. Display a complete message in the first frame – In case the entire animation does not display well with the recipient’s email client, make sure that the first frame conveys the entire message. This is to ensure that what you wanted your clients to know will get to them even when things don’t work as expected.
  2. Small is better than big – In the case of animated GIFs, small is better than big. This is so because you want to avoid the spam filters of most email clients. Another thing is, you want to maintain the speed of the way your email loads because if it’s too slow, you know already what your recipient will do with it.
  3. Let the animation cycle for several times – Allowing the animation cycle for several times will ensure that the viewer can see the entire message. After this, allow it to go static for 30 seconds. This is also another reason why you have to keep it small.
  4. Consider how the email would look like without the animation – There are email clients that are intentionally set to block animation and that is why, you have to consider how your email would look like without it. The point here is to avoid relying solely on animation to convey the message. You have to remember that your purpose of using it is just to spice it up a bit but not to cripple the entire campaign just because the animation part does not display well.
  5. Avoid overusing animation – In relation to the above, avoid using animation too much. There are a lot of disadvantages of overusing animation and that is why, you have to use it sparingly. Aside from slowing the loading down, it can create a visual mess when not used properly. You have to remember that you don’t want to irritate your recipient and too much animation is the best way to accomplish that.

Although a lot of professional fundraisers have abandoned the use of animated GIFs in their email fundraising campaigns, still we suggest that you reconsider using it. It is a great way to customize your mails and add a little bit of personality to it. If done properly, you can be sure that it will bring a great deal of conversion to your overall online fundraising campaign.

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Top 6 Mistakes for Email Fundraising

email_fundraisingNo matter how much you avoid it, it happens. An email fundraising mishap makes you want to recall all the emails that you have just sent to your donors!. The efficiency of modern technology can be a double edge sword to wound its wielder if you are not careful. The moment you press the send button, all those mails will be in the inbox of all your recipients and if they contain things that are broken, problematic, or included stuff you are not supposed to say, there is no way to bring them back. Hopefully for you that doesn’t mean “Hasta la Vista, Baby!”

Well if you get a next time to send, you can take some simple steps to avoid the worst issues, and that is why I would like to share with you the things that you should avoid in your email fundraising campaigns. Here they are:

1. Failure to personalize – An email with a “Dear Friend” in the opening is a good candidate for deletion. I mean, try to put yourself in the shoes of your donor — why do you think he should support your cause AGAIN if you don’t even know his name? With all the digital information available online, it’s just a sign of sloppy email fundraising not to be able to use the FIRST name. Usually, I ALWAYS have the First name personlization utilized in the BODY of my email. In addition, I use Subject line personalization on resends to non-opens to create something different at first glance.

2.  UNDER soliciting your donors – Yes. I said UNDER! Most fundraisers might be scared about running too many campaigns at the same time and asking too much from the same donors. They typically worry about people unsubscribing because they find your email in their inbox too often. Well,  I know that can occur, but in my experience most clients err on the side of too much caution. So I’m proposing the reverse is true. The main problem is undersolicitation. My typical rule of thumb is to send out fundraising emails at the same time every month – I prefer the 15th through the 30th. I also Split Test at least 3 email variations and send every 3-4 days during that period of time. That means you could be emailing up to 5-6 times in two weeks. Then we stop any soliciations for two weeks. I’ve found this system works well, and have used it for over 4 years to help one client raise over $725,000.

3.  Failure to test through checkout – The #1 thing that can go wrong with any email campaign is that your checkout process doesn’t work. That’s why you MUST send yourself test emails in advance and open, click through them, and complete the checkout process to be sure it works.  The meltdown scenario is you don’t test through checkout and you send 150,000 emails out to see Page Not Found error messages on your forms two days later!  Ouch.  There are mistakes and then there are mistakes. Overlooking a typo in the Subject Line is a major blunder, but a broken or busted checkout process is the #1 ALL TIME Biggest Show Stopper Mistake ever. That problem stops everything dead in its tracks, so test your checkout process religiously to make sure you capture the gift or donation.

4.  Failure to keep up with the times – Are you still relying solely on email that only renders on the PC? You can multiply the power of your campaign if you include with it full social sharing on Facebook, Twitter. Use Addthis. Harness the power of social media for your emails. ALSO, don’t overalook mobile either. This is rapidly becoming a required component of any email fundraising campaign. This will make your life much easier because it will complement what you cannot include in a garden variety email. Ease of communication, ease of donating, seeing videos and pictures all add to the overall power that you cannot accomplish with email alone.

5. Only use the shotgun approach – Trying to cover all campaigns in one single mail is what you call the shotgun approach. By definition a shotgun is best used in SELF-DEFENSE cause it sprays “shot” in all directions. Instead, try to be surgical in your approach and by that, I mean try to limit the scope of your campaign. Use rifles or pistols that can hit specific targets. The way to accomplish this is by getting better DATA from your donors. Make sure your Profile Management pages are functional — use them and/or surveys to harvest more information. As your database grows, you can better segment and focus email sends on specific interests, groups, demographics, or behavior patterns of your donors.

6. Failure to TEST – At the end of the day, all the email marketers in the world can tell you what they think will work, but even the “experts” are only speculating unless their guesses are backed up by real time results. Get around the guessing by testing. Try this and that. Test this and that. Testing helps you find out what really works. Constantly test. Because even when something works one month, it may not work the next, because our results are a combination of two things: those things we control, and the outside forces we do not control. As you test, develop a Lessons Learned document which will give you guidance going forward in regard to things that have been proven to work at one point in time.

Although there are still plenty of “oopps” in email fundraising that are in my list, these six are the most frequent and sadly, the least avoided. Taking these to heart will prevent you from committing them again. Just remember that the moment you press that “send” button, there is no way to get those mails back.

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