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When communicating to donors online or via mobile, it's crucial to quickly make a compelling case for giving. So Google's Android application One Today encourages many fundraising best practices that any cause can use. Here are some examples of featured nonprofit projects and what they're doing right!
As you put together your year-end campaigns, look to innovative online campaigns such as those highlighted on One Today. Using compelling photos, clear calls to action, and tangible impact statements will help you connect with your donors and raise more money!
For more information on One Today listen to the archived Nonprofit 911 presentation Raise More Money with Google, An Introduction to One Today. And to really take your fundraising to the next level, check out DonateNow, Network for Good's easy online fundraising platform.
Your nonprofit's story should stir people to take action. Without the proper storytelling elements, you won't create that emotional spark that leads to the act you want: a donation, volunteer time, or a signed petition.
Keep these five storytelling tips in mind to help you tell better stories and generate help from your supporters:
1. Let people and characters be the focus of your story. Your organization is not the main character, the people (or animals!) your organization works to support should be the main focus in your organization's story.
2. Choose your communication method wisely. The medium you choose to tell your story in will influence your tone and length. A long-form story is a better fit for a donor appeal letter or an annual report. A shorter story that is more shareable will shine online.
3. Include hopeful, positive imagery in stories to help bring them to life. Adding a visual element can create an even deeper emotional connection with donors and supporters.
4. Listen to others who can help you craft a compelling tale. It's important to gather accurate and authentic information from those who benefit from your organization's work.
5. Avoid the kitchen sink. Don't try to stuff everything into one story, but instead break it down into a series if you have additional stories to tell. Information overload can turn people off, while too many details in one story can distract from the narrative and disrupt the emotional draw you're trying to create.
For more information on how telling better nonprofit stories can help your organization raise more money, download our free eGuide, How to Make the Case for Giving.
If you've ever accessed the Internet from a smartphone, chances are good that you've had the unpleasant experience of trying to navigate a website full of tiny text and miniscule links. Unfortunately, if your nonprofit hasn't yet optimized its website for smartphones, you could also be frustrating potential donors, volunteers, and supporters.
Why should your nonprofit care about going mobile?
Credit: infocux Technologies
Communication that leads supporters to your website is important for connecting with your donors. As of June 2013, mobile web visits accounted for an estimated 34.3% of all U.S. Internet traffic, and it's predicted to surpass non-mobile web traffic by 2014. Despite these statistics, over 60% of the top 100 nonprofit organizations in the United States have failed to adopt any sort of mobile strategy. If you’re one of those groups, don’t worry! Here are the three keys to getting started:
1. Know your audience and define your goals.
2. Choose the right method to become mobile-friendly.
There are three different ways your organization can become mobile-friendly: optimize specific pieces of your nonprofit website, optimize the entire website, or create a responsive design that automatically adapts content to a mobile device.
3. Make your content mobile-friendly.
Once you've determined your core audience and picked a type of mobile optimization, it's time to revisit your content. Does everything on your nonprofit website encourage a visitor to take action? Like your homepage, your mobile website should clearly explain your mission, show how donations will make an impact, and provide a painless way to donate via a smartphone. You should also:
We all know that the holidays are a busy time of year, and not just for you and your staff, but for your supporters and volunteers as well.
That's why it's more important than ever to make the right choices when designing your holiday and end-of-year email fundraising campaigns.
To help you get noticed and stand out from the crowd this holiday season, here are five design mistakes all nonprofits need to avoid:
1. Overwhelming readers with holiday cheer.
When using colors, fonts, and imagery to give your emails a holiday-feel, it's important to find a balance.
You don't want your emails to blend in with all of the other red, green, and gold messages that will be flooding inboxes in the days, weeks, and months ahead, but you also don't want to look like the house on your block that's gone completely overboard with its decorations.
Remember, making your emails recognizable is far more important than decorating them with holiday cheer. Use the colors and fonts that match your organization's brand first and then use the holiday stuff to compliment your message.
2. Forgetting to use your photo album.
The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to develop a more human connection with the people who receive your emails. Whether you're in the middle of an end-of-year fundraiser or are just wishing your supporters happy holidays, choosing the right image for your email is an easy way to make that connection.
Avoid using photos that look fake or staged. Look at the photos you've taken over the course of the year. Do you have photos on your Facebook page, on Instagram, or even saved on your mobile device? (Need a powerful email marketing tool that will allow you to send compelling appeals? You can easily upload your photos with Constant Contact. Find out more.)
3. Dragging on and on.
Being as clear and concise as possible with the messages you send out is important any time of year, but it is especially important during the busy holiday season.
Readers aren't just receiving a ton of emails from businesses and organizations like yours, they're also dealing with a ton of other responsibilities that come along with the holiday season.
Do your readers a favor and keep your content short and to the point. If you have a lot to say, look for opportunities to link to your website, blog, or event landing pages for additional information.
4. Making it impossible to read on-the-go.
Forty-three percent of all emails are read on a mobile device, and you can expect that number to be even higher during this busy time of year.
If you're making it difficult for people to read your emails on these devices, you could have trouble reaching potential donors and volunteers.
Because of the limited real estate you get with a mobile device, it's generally better to use simple layouts. Often times with multi-column layouts (two columns and more), your readers will have to zoom or scroll on their smartphone to see everything. Using a single-column template will make your content much more flexible for all screen sizes.
5. Burying your call to action.
Not to belabor the point, but with everyone being pulled in different directions this time of year, it's important that you're making it easy for people to act on the emails you send out.
What is the purpose of your email? Do you want people to donate? Volunteer? Register for an upcoming event? Make it clear to your readers what you want them to do. And make sure it's easy for people to take action!
Ready to get started?
Small improvements to your email design can make a big difference for your nonprofit's year-end fundraising campaign.
Happy Holidays from Constant Contact!
(Already a Constant Contact user? Log into your Constant Contact account and get started today.)
As Constant Contact’s Content Developer, Ryan Pinkham helps small businesses and nonprofits recognize their full potential through marketing and social media.
Photo from Flickr member Christopher S. Penn
Social media can provide new opportunities for your nonprofit to promote its cause. But watch out for these five social media myths while you connect with your supporters online:
1. Social media is free.
Compared with writing, designing, and printing an annual report or direct mail piece, social media is certainly free. But it still takes time for you and your staff members to build relationships and network online.
2. It's a silver bullet for fundraising.
Social media itself isn't a key fundraising channel, so being on Facebook won't guarantee that your next campaign will net millions of dollars. Instead, use social media for building relationships, rather than for hard asks. You have to have good content and good strategy to help your fans see your campaigns.
3. It's an opportunity to control your message and what everyone thinks about you.
Instead of one organization talking to many people, social media is about letting the community be part of shaping the message. Of course, you can broadcast about your nonprofit. But by using social media as a way to talk with supporters instead of just at them, you can truly interact. Your fans will get a chance to see the meaning in your work and feel genuinely involved.
4. It's always appealing to Millennials.
Yes, Millennials are known for their love of social media and the ease with which they use it. But just being on social media won't make your organization cool. They key is to know your audience and appeal to them.
5. With social media, you don't need to have clear messaging.
If your organization isn't clear about its mission, getting on social media won't change that. Just like with other methods of communication, your group needs to use strong messaging to say who you are and why you matter in order to appeal to supporters.
To learn more about these myths and how you your organization can use social media to connect with supporters, access the archived webinar presentation of Nonprofit 911: Develop a Social Media Strategy with nonprofit communications expert Farra Trompeter.
If a supporter donates on your website, does she see the same call to action when she visits your Facebook page? If your messaging doesn't match, your potential donor may be confused and second-guess giving to your nonprofit. Help your fans keep giving with these four tips to consistent donor communication!
Credit: Courtesy of the Boston Public
Library, Leslie Jones Collection
1. Keep your colors cohesive …
When someone visits your virtual house—Twitter page, website, donation page, landing page, etc.—does he have one user-friendly experience, or does each "room" look like it has a different personality? Keep your colors and branding consistent across every single web site, social media outlet, and print document you share with others. If your email is purple but your landing page is yellow, your donor might feel lost and immediately leave your page.
2. … Except for your Donate button!
Is your donate button or call to action easy to find? If not, your button might be blending in. Your donate button shouldn't clash, but it should be bright, bold, and easily noticeable. Try looking across the color wheel to find a good color; for example, if your page is mostly blue, use the opposite color (orange) for your button.
3. Make your messaging match …
Does your email say, "Download a free brochure on AIDS prevention," but your landing page reads: "Learn more about AIDS"? In this case, visitors could wonder, "What about my brochure?" To get your fans to take action, choose one message or story and use it everywhere: your home page, landing page, emails, and social media. Make it extremely clear what you want and what your visitor can expect to avoid any confusion.
4. … Especially for your Donate button!
When you're running a campaign, make sure the landing page for your donate button reflects that. For instance, if you're asking supporters to give to your year-end campaign in your November emails, put that message on your donation page. You want supporters to think, "Great, I can't wait to donate to their year-end campaign!" And not: "Is this how I donate for year-end???"
Using uniform appeals across all of your emails, websites, and social media will help your supporters recognize your nonprofit and encourage them to donate. If you need help creating a branded donation page or need a new page for your next campaign, contact Network for Good for help.
Instead of viewing donors like customers, change the relationship so that your donors, board members, and CEOs are your partners helping you gain more resources for your cause. Thanks to the new book The Generosity Network, here's how to do it:
3. Make it a story of "us."
Make the connection between your interests and the interests of others. Show people how their passions and your passions can have a similar impact, then instead of saying to your partners, "Will you help me?" Reframe the question as, "How can we work together?"
4. Join together.
Now, create an action plan from your new partnerships. Instead of viewing your donors and board members as one-time givers, they can be partners who bring resources to the table.
To learn more on how you can turn your "customers" into new partners, access the archived webinar presentation of Nonprofit 911: Build Your Generosity Network with Jennifer McCrea and Jeff Walker.
When your donors feel valued and special, they're more likely to give again and again. One way to spread the love is by giving your emails a personal touch. Here's how:
If your friend sent you a note that said, "Dear Sir or Madam," you might be a little confused. While you may not individually know all of your supporters, think of them as your nonprofit's treasured partners and write to each one by name with a friendly greeting. Try saying "Hello there, Matt!" instead of "Dear Matthew."
Adopt a warm, welcoming tone by using simple sentences and informal language. This will help your email be breezy instead of stiff. Choosing shorter words such as "get" over longer words like "acquired" will make your email read as if from a friend.
Sending your email from one person, using first-person pronouns, and including contractions will keep your note feeling conversational. If you write, "The Denver Puppy House is pleased to receive your donation," or, "We used those funds to buy medicine," you might come across as formal and dull. But if you write, "I am so glad you were able to make a donation to help our puppies," or "I couldn't have done it without you," you'll sound intimate and chatty.
If your favorite sportswear company is Nike, you're not alone: Seventy-percent of Nike's customers say they would buy a Nike product again. Unfortunately, the opposite is true for nonprofits, and 70% of first-time donors never go on to give again. Follow these six simple tips to become the Nike of nonprofits and start turning first-time donors into lifetime givers:
1. Connect early and often.
After a donor gives you that first donation, welcome them! Say thank you, let them know how grateful you are, and tell them what you plan to accomplish with their funds. You can also ask first-time donors how they would like you to communicate with them and how often.
2. Be personal.
Segment your donors so that a first-time donor receives a different thank you letter than a repeat donor or a VIP donor. That simple separation will make a big difference to your donors, who'll be happy to know that you recognize their uniqueness.
3. Relate to donors like they're great friends.
Donor retention is built just like a friendship: Sometimes you call your friends, sometimes you write to them, and sometimes you invite them to an event. Put the same variety of communication to work when getting to know your new donors.
4. Rally supporters to send your message.
All of the messages you send to your donors don't have to come from you. If someone benefits from the funds raised at your event, ask them to write a letter about why that was meaningful to them, or let a sponsor write about why they chose to be involved. There are many different messengers you can call on to sing your organization's praises.
5. Show how you're achieving your mission.
Are the donations you received being put to good use? Let your donors know all the good work they're helping you do whenever you contact them.
To learn more about keeping your donors involved and getting more recurring donations, access the archived presentation of Nonprofit 911: Turn First-Time Donors Into Repeat Donors with Tom Ahern and Jay Love.
At this point, you've probably heard about Gmail's new inbox. Although it's still too early to tell what impact the new tabs will have on your nonprofit email marketing, you may be wondering if there's anything you can do to be proactive with the Gmail subscribers on your list.
The first thing you can do is to continue to send relevant, valuable content to your donors, supporters, volunteers, and everyone else who has signed up to receive emails from your organization. This is the content people will look for regardless of which tab Gmail sends it to.
Next, you may consider sending an email to your Gmail subscribers showing them how to move your emails to the Primary tab.
Here's a sample email that you can modify to match the voice of your organization or copy and paste (just be sure to make changes where appropriate) and send to your Gmail subscribers. It explains the recent changes to Gmail's inbox and what your customers should do to move your emails into their Primary tab if they'd rather get your emails there. Here's the sample nonprofit email you can use. Just remember to change the bold sections appropriately for your situation before sending:
Subject line: Did Gmail put this email where you want it?
[Dear subscriber/first name],
As you may know, Gmail recently rolled out a newly designed inbox. If you've been using the new design, you also know your emails are now being sorted into three tabs - Primary, Social, and Promotions - with two additional tabs, Updates and Forums, available from the Configure inbox section of your Gmail Settings.
You may also have noticed that [my/our] emails, maybe even this one, now appear in your Promotions or Updates tab. If you'd rather receive the emails [I/we] send in your Primary tab, it's simple to tell Gmail where these emails should go.
*Drag and drop [my/our] email into your Primary tab and click "yes" when Gmail asks if you'd like future messages from this email address to go to your Primary tab.
[I/We] hope this information helps. If you have any additional questions please let [me/us] know.
[Your name/organization name]
That should do the trick! If you're a Constant Contact customer, we created a special template you can use as well.
How to find the "New Gmail Tabs" template:
Just log in to your account, create a new email, and type "Gmail" in the search box. You'll then be able to select the "New Gmail Tabs" template.
Here's how to create a list of your Gmail subscribers:
Go to the Contacts section of your Constant Contact account. Search for email addresses ending in "gmail.com" and save the search results as a new list which you can label "Gmail Subscribers." That way you'll be able to send this email to just your Gmail subscribers.
Aside from teaching your readers about Gmail's new inbox, it has never been more important to offer relevant, helpful content that your supporters will thank you for.
As Constant Contact’s Content Developer, Ryan Pinkham helps small businesses and nonprofits recognize their full potential through marketing and social media.
If yearly holiday appeals are the only time you contact your donors, chances are good that they aren't feeling needed or cherished. So stay in touch—very close touch. Here's how:
When you first make the ask, let your supporters know why you need them. You can ask your donors to help in any way that they can and let them know how their help will lead to the achievement of your mission.
Send Thank You Notes
Make sure your thank you letter is timely and lets donors know what they can expect from your nonprofit in the future. Consider sending a second thank you note that asks for feedback and shows your continued appreciation.
Send Regular Updates
After you've thanked your donors, send them regular updates detailing the ongoing impact of their gift. They'll be pleased to know that their donation is being put to good use and might even be inspired to give again!
Newsletters are a great way to describe what your organization has been doing. You can report on the impact of all donor contributions and help maintain your supporters' interest. Don't forget to remind your fans how important they are to you.
Repeating this cycle of communication won't annoy your supporters-it will make them feel involved in what you're doing. To learn more about staying in touch with your supporters, check out our webinar Nonprofit 911: Turn First-Time Donors Into Repeat Donors with Tom Ahern and Jay Love.
When someone makes a donation on your website, what do they get in return? Are you giving donors an earful about how great you are, or do you tell them about how great they are? Here are three dos and don'ts on how to stay focused on your donor's generosity so that they feel great and want to keep giving:
Don't: Make your donors feel like an ATM.
Do: Instead of asking your donors for money, give them an important job that only they can do, helping them feel needed and exceptional.
Don't: Tell your donors how great you are and how many great things you've done.
Do: Make your donor your first priority. Tell them how many great things they have made possible with their contributions.
Don't: Put donors names on a long list to say thank you-especially one that divides them into different giving levels and can make some contributions seem more important than others. There isn't much involvement in seeing your name on a list-but there is a lot of (negative!) emotion if your name is spelled wrong!
Do: Sending your donors personal thank you notes will not only show your genuine appreciation, but make you appear thoughtful and authentic.
Remember, it's not about your donor's money, it's about what your donors make possible!
To learn more about retaining your fabulous donors, access the archived presentation of Nonprofit 911: Turn First-Time Donors Into Repeat Donors with Tom Ahern and Jay Love.
Has it been a while since you've updated your organization's online donation page? It's time to get down to business and whip your donation form into shape before the year-end stream of donations begins. Get better online fundraising results by avoiding these donation page mistakes:
1. Too much text.
Once your donor has landed on your donation page, don't confuse, overwhelm, or bore them with paragraphs of text. One or two lines of short, compelling copy are plenty. Your goal is to reinforce your call to action and get donors to your donation form as quickly as possible.
2. Too many options.
Just like too much text, too many options on your online donation page can make donors less likely to complete your form. Get rid of unnecessary fields and remove extraneous navigation that will take donors away from your page.
3. Inconsistent branding.
When a donor goes to your donation form from your email appeal or website, do they feel like they have been transported to a different planet? A donation page that looks like your other campaign materials and your nonprofit's website makes your donation experience familiar and seamless.
4. Outdated information.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you have outdated information on your nonprofit donation page, you're sending a not-so-subtle signal to donors that you may not be the best steward of their gift. Make sure you're not still touting a matching grant that has expired, a program that has ended, or last year's fundraising goal.
5. Lack of testing.
Two types of online donation page testing will help you get better results this year. Usability testing will help you uncover any issues that may derail a donor. A/B testing can help you decide which images, calls to action, and suggested donation amounts perform best.
6. No suggested giving amounts.
Make it easy for your donors by offering suggested giving amounts that take the guesswork out of how much to give. Use your average gift as a starting point, and then offer one giving amount that's slightly lower and two or three higher amounts. Illustrate what each gift level could provide with impact labels to help donors visualize the result of their donation.
7. No recurring gift options.
If you're not offering supporters a way to give a recurring gift, you're missing out on donations. Recurring gifts help donors fit giving into their budgets and allow you to collect more over time. If donors feel like they can't give enough to make a difference, they may not give at all. Frame your recurring gift options in a way that lets donors know how their regular support will help.
When creating your year-end email appeals, remember these six key ingredients:
1. An easy to find donation button.
Some donors will be ready to give as soon as they open your nonprofit email. Don't make them hunt for the link to your DonateNow page. Make the donate button big, bold, and above the fold.
2. A specific call to action.
Vague calls to action like "support us" are more likely to confuse than to motivate. Make sure your calls to action are highly specific and feasible.
3. A sense of urgency.
A sense of urgency will give your donors that extra nudge they need to take action. As year-end nears, let your supporters know when there are only a few more days left to meet your annual goal.
4. Contact information.
Linking to an effective contact page that answers how people can contact your nonprofit and why they should want to contact your nonprofit can help donors find the right way to get in touch if they have an important question. It's also important that you put in an easy way for readers to opt-out of your nonprofit emails (and if you're not sending from a email service provider like Constant Contact, be aware of CAN-SPAM laws).
5. Mobile-friendly design.
Because the decision to donate is often impulsive, smartphones make it easy to act in the moment. Make sure your emails are mobile friendly so you don't miss out on connecting with donors who want to give on the go. Download our free eGuide for more on why mobile matters.
6. The case for giving.
Simply asking for a donation is not enough. Especially in year-end appeals, fundraisers must make a compelling case for giving by using stories, building credibility, and packaging your message.
Did you know that year-end donations make up 30% of giving for the entire year? Because year-end fundraising goals are often so big, it's important to start planning your year-end campaign now. When mapping out your email appeals, keep the following four topics in mind:
1. Look for trends in recent response data.
As you're brainstorming your email strategy, spend some quality time digging into data on what's been the most and least effective for you over the past few months. For example, if you notice that click-through rates are higher in your graphic-rich emails, design extra-visual appeals for year-end. If supporters don't click on links at the bottom of your emails, make sure you keep all links in the first part of your message (especially your DonateNow button!).
2. Consider your sending frequency and target your outreach.
Carefully think about your email frequency—every fatigued subscriber who opts out in December is someone who won't see your emails at all next year. Start ramping up your email frequency now and keep a close eye on the open and unsubscribe rates, then adjust your year-end campaign email frequency accordingly.
3. Keep your emails social.
People stay busy during the end of the year, but not too busy to keep up with their social networking. Make sure your subscribers have an easy way to share your emails with their friends and followers, and include easy-to-spot links to your organization's social networking sites, too.
4. Welcome new subscribers right away.
When someone signs up for your email list, they're probably interested in hearing from you right then and there. Build a strong relationship with new subscribers right away with an automatic welcome note. If you can set a great foundation now, you'll have more loyal subscribers during prime giving season.
Because fundraising events can be expensive, it's important to maximize your investment with a targeted outreach strategy. Your goals should be to increase ticket sales, improve word of mouth buzz, create more invested supporters, and ultimately raise more money. But if you focus on just one more thing, your marketing can be exponentially more effective.
When planning an event, it's important to ask: "Why will people attend?" Event 360 suggests guests come because of an …
1. Affinity to Participants
This is especially true for events like marathons, where attendees might come to cheer someone on, or if there will be a guest speaker or entertainment, a guest might attend for that speaker or performance.
2. Affinity to an Activity
If you have an activity such as a golf tournament or a wine tasting, someone who loves the links or is deeply interested in wine collecting might attend for the activity.
3. Affinity to a Third-Party Group
Guests whose employers have a relationship with your nonprofit or a relationship with a corporate sponsor might attend to support them.
4. Affinity to a Cause
Your guest might be passionate about the beneficiary of your event, such as animals or the environment.
5. Affinity to an Organization
If someone is a dedicated fan of your organization, he is more likely to attend your event.
Remember, people might have one or more reasons to attend your event. It can be challenging to address each type of attendee, but it can also be a great opportunity to gain new supporters. Start with your invitations, which should answer:
1. Why them?
What's in it for your guest? Do you mention the activity or sponsor they might be interested in? Why are they receiving your invitation, and why should it matter to them?
2. What for?
What's the impact of the event, and what's going to happen as a result of it? Do you clearly state what will happen to the proceeds you raise?
3. Who says?
Do you make it clear who the invitation is coming from? If your guest has an affinity to a participant or an activity, are you interesting them with a quote from a sponsor, a celebrity, someone who attended last year, or someone who benefitted from the event?
4. Why now?
Is there a date sensitive element you can include to encourage participation, such as early bird pricing of a limited number of VIP tickets?
When crafting your marketing strategy, think about your different types of guests so that you can market to everyone and maximize your donations. To learn more about successfully marketing your nonprofit events, access the archived webinar presentation of Plan a Successful Fundraising Event.
Content calendars are all the rage. They're an effective way to track your content production and marketing efforts, but have you ever thought about making a grantseeking calendar? Building a grantseeking strategy around a thoughtful, strategic approach will save you the time and heartache of applying for grants that aren't a good fit for your nonprofit and help you identify the best grants for your organization.
Cynthia M. Adams of GrantStation.com recommends creating a true grantseeking strategy that culminates in a master calendar. So how do you make your calendar, and what should inform your strategy? Cynthia's secret weapon is a grant decision matrix. She advises each organization to build a matrix, such as in Excel or Google Docs, to score each potential grant on your own universal criteria. Focus on the aspects that are important to you, such as a grant's timing, credibility, your relationship with the parent organization, and the work required for submission. The weight you assign will probably depend on the size of your organization and how long writing a grant will take you. Do you have dedicated grant writers, or just volunteers? Think about creating criteria such as, "Each grant must take less than 10 hours to write," and then question how much weight they should have. Once you've developed your criteria and weights, run a few test cases against it to determine which scores signal "go apply" and which mean "stop and rethink." You can also start with a preliminary, no-score matrix of yes and no questions. It will take some time and discussion to create a scoring system that works for you, but creating a grant decision matrix is an important step for identifying the right grantmakers for your projects.
And that's where the calendar comes in. You've created a matrix, thought about which projects need grants, and researched potential funding sources. The key to following through on all of your hard work is to create a calendar of grant tasks. These tasks can include completing forms, securing a match, writing a proposal, writing a cover letter, or getting board approval. Once you've set all your deadlines on a calendar, you'll be able to see what will work and what time periods may be problematic.
Creating a grant decision matrix and a master calendar are important steps to getting the best grants for your organization, but they're just a small portion of the great ideas Cynthia shared during our free webinar. To learn more about grantseeking and to see planning examples, access the archived presentation of our webinar, Building a Powerful Grants Strategy.
Email is one of the most effective ways to communicate with supporters. But if your emails aren't reaching inboxes, aren't sparking interest with a thoughtful subject line, or are too generic, there’s a chance your supporters won't read them at all. Below are a few tips to help you personalize messages and refine your delivery strategy so that your emails are read (and enjoyed).
MedSend has raised over half a million online by combining
effective email marketing with their online fundraising strategy.
Customize the "From" field
There’s nothing special or memorable about receiving an email from "office" or email@example.com. But when you personalize the "From" address to send your campaign from an actual person, such as your executive director or a beneficiary of your work, you’ve taken the first step in creating a relationship with your supporters.
Limit your subject line length
The perfect subject line length is up for debate. The rule of thumb is a 40 character limit, but some email clients display only the first 25. When in doubt, test across as many email clients as you can, and take a look at your open rates as you test.
Perfect subject line copy
You've got only one chance to make a good first impression. Your email subject lines can show how much you respect your constituents' busy schedules by telling them exactly what they'll find inside. Always avoid using ALL CAPS, dollar signs, and exclamation points, all of which will raise flags for spam filters. You should also avoid using words such as "free," "help," or "invite." Try "complimentary," "assistance," and "confirm" instead. To increase your email delivery rates further, always use a spam filter test (Constant Contact has a great spam checker!) to scour your email header, subject line, body, and footer.
Make it personal
Formal salutations like "Dear Sir or Madam" can be appropriate when writing long form letters by hand, but with email, the expectations are less formal. Feel free to address your recipients with a familiar "Hi," followed by their first name—provided of course that you have followed the email list building best practice of asking for first and last names.
Bring it to a close
The same advice to keep your content personal applies when signing off. Feel free to thank your supporters and be sincere, but remember to sign off with your own name to personalize the email further. Some organizations like to include a small photo of the sender to create an even more personal touch. The email's closing also provides you with the chance to add one more reminder using a post script (P.S.) to prompt reader action. Be sure to take advantage of this, as it has proven to be one of the most read elements in emails.
Test and refine
When it comes to email marketing to any audience, there is no single proven path to guaranteed success. However, testing and refining your emails will help you better understand your audience and craft messages that raise more money while creating lasting connections.
Ready to dive in to professional email marketing? Find out more about Constant Contact and start raising more money for your mission with email marketing.
Social media is a key part of any online strategy, especially since traditional news organizations are turning to it to get information. Learn how to make your nonprofit press releases social media friendly so that you can bypass traditional news organizations to spread the word.
1. Link to your Twitter and Facebook pages.
Instead of linking to only your home page in the about section of your press release, include links to your social media profiles. This will show your audience that you're technologically savvy-your organization knows how to use the most popular technology available-and help you gain new followers and fans.
2. Twitterize your headline.
It's now acceptable to put a Twitter handle in a press release's headline. Doing so will connect donors and other stakeholders to your nonprofit and your key personnel. Just remember that any Twitter handle you promote should tweet on the press release's topic the day it goes out. Be sure to also use any hasthtags you mention.
3. Keep your headline short and catchy.
Use Twitter's 140 character limit to avoid superfluous words and keep your headline extra pithy. Your headline shouldn't tell the whole story of your press release-that's what your subheadline and body text are for-just entice your audience to start reading.
4. Engage with your audience to create a meaningful dialogue.
Just like Peter Panepento recommended, you shouldn't just repost your press releases to your Facebook page. Instead, divvy up the relevant information across all of your various accounts.
Social media helps you connect with your community and opens the door to being a personable and knowledgeable organization that others will feel encouraged to be a part of. Social media can be a great tool to help your press releases gain attention, and including social media in your press releases can drive traffic to your organization.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting a website's visibility to search engines, but how can you actually make your press release appear first in search results? Jessica Pajak and Tyler Ragghianti of PR NewsChannel share some tips on how to use keywords and hyperlinks to elevate your press releases.
What are they?
Keywords are the most relevant single words or phrases that are commonly searched for in top search engines. Outside of the headline or subheadline, the use of keywords is the most important aspect of your press release, so spend time on it to make sure your press release gets the attention you desire.
Why are they important?
The tough thing about modern press releases is that they must be written to appeal not just to people-but also to search engines. If a search engine doesn't notice it, then a human won't find it, and if it doesn't appeal to a human, then no one will read it. The first step in making your press release search engine friendly is to use appropriate keywords.
How can I choose mine?
Google Adwords is a useful free tool for helping you choose keywords. You can search for the keyword that will be the most effective for you and see those that are competing with it. For example, if you search for a keyword and only three articles come up, your keyword might be too narrow. But if 500,000 appear, you might need to make your keyword more specific. Avoid generic terms such as "nonprofit organization," because on any given day, 600 press releases might go out from nonprofit organizations. Great keywords can also involve your cause and location.
How do I use them?
Find two or three keyword phrases that apply to your press release and use those a few times throughout. A good rule of thumb is to put the first keyword in your headline, put your second in the subheadline, and alternate them throughout the body of your press release.
What should I hyperlink to?
In addition to keywords, you'll also want to include three to five hyperlinks in your press release. Good places to link to include your home page or about page, related websites, a landing page for a contest or event, and your social media pages.
Where should I put them?
Spread out your hyperlinks throughout your press release with no more than one per paragraph. Watch out for using too many hyperlinks! Otherwise, search engines may flag your release, making it less likely to appear in search engine results.
Can I hyperlink my keywords?
Unfortunately, hyperlinking keywords won't earn you extra points because hyperlinks and keywords do the same thing-they encourage your press release to move up the list of search results. By hyperlinking a set of keywords, you're creating a redundancy that could actually lower your search engine ranking.
To learn more about PR tactics for your nonprofit, access the archived presentation of Nonprofit 911: Free PR Help for Your Nonprofit.