digital fundraising

Although almost every Not for Profit does email marketing, few are truly doing it well, writes ntegrity’s founder Richenda Vermeulen for Pro Bono News. 

Donors are the lifeblood of Not for Profits: they’re the reason you’re able to do the work you do. If engaged with effectively they can be your loudest cheerleaders and your most passionate influencers. And although most NFPs do email marketing, the hard truth is that very few do it well.

In our digital audits we commonly see that the people you email are split by internal departments (eg marketing and communications) rather than what’s interesting to them as donors. This affects how they’re organised as contacts (how their details are recorded and which “lists” they’re organised into), and the kind of content they’re sent. For the most part, they receive either newsletters or campaign messages, in other words, what you want to say, not what the user wants to hear.

Here are three ways to improve and maximise your email database to boost the ROI of your email marketing strategy:

1. Audience first, you second

When you develop an email marketing strategy, make engaging your audience the first priority –rather than achieving your comms objectives. If you do this, you’ll naturally achieve your objectives, and you’ll see better results.

Start by looking at what’s worked and what hasn’t: which emails had the best fundraising ROI? Which had the best open rates and click-throughs? Which had good clicks but saw less donations? Which encouraged return donations? Did any one-off donors become recurring ones? Use these metrics to get a sense for what your donors engaged with, and what they didn’t, and make this the starting point for your strategy.

Tried and true starting points for great email marketing strategies are:

  • Welcome and thank you emails – to make donors feel special and appreciated.
  • Surveys – people love being asked to help, and giving their opinion. Make it worth their while with a clever, engaging survey that will also help you to get to know them better.
  • Think about the people you don’t currently consider to be “donors” – for instance, rather than just sending newsletters to a certain group, ask whether they would be interested to give money. If they’re your supporter in one area, chances are they would.

Make what you’ve learnt about your audience the lens through which you view your calendar and goals and you’ll be able to communicate these things in a more compelling way.

2. Organise your database: structure, process, lists  

Putting structure around your donor database and CRM is essential. Firstly it’s important to achieve consistency across all of your databases. This means having one central platform (if possible), and ensuring that you are in sync with every department that manages these different databases so there is no unnecessary double-up or information falling through the cracks.

Organise your database into logical lists and segments relating to your donors’ specific areas of giving and interests etc. This will allow you to better analyse what does and doesn’t work with donors, and engage more personally and strategically with them.

3. Maximising on automation emails

Once you have organised your database and know your donors more personally, you can begin to craft automation streams that continue to build relationships and encourage recurring donations. While it’s always good to start with a thank you or welcome email, the more tailored you can make your communications, the more effective they’ll be. When people feel personally connected to you, and personally invested in what you do, they are more likely to become regular donors.

If you’d like to know more about how to maximise your email or wider digital marketing specifically to your organisation, get in touch here.