I volunteer with a small nonprofit called Fields to Families. We work with local farmers to distribute excess produce to families in need. Brilliant, right? Have you grabbed your credit card yet? Well, I wish more of our constituents did the last time we sent an email appeal!
It was beautifully crafted (or at least I thought so.) The returns were less than mind-blowing. So, as we embark on our next online fundraising adventure, I thought it would be a good idea to hit up the NetWits gang. (Enter cheesy A-team music here.) I asked them the following question: What are the top reasons that email appeals get ignored??
Here are their answers:
- “You’re always asking for money. If I get four emails a month, even from an organization I like and all they do is ask for money … what kind of relationship is that? Romance me a bit, tell me some stories, and get me fired up about the cause. Let me know that there are other things I can do to support you that aren’t all about money like: take an advocacy action, share with a friend, like you on Facebook, play a game, attend an in person or online event … and then, yes, ask me for money. But just don’t do it all the time. – Kathryn Hall
- “You sent email they didn’t ask for. It’s not right to send email without prior consent. That is called spam, and it’s frowned upon. If the people on your mailing list opted to receive your message, then you will see greater returns from your appeal.” – Anthony Sicola
- “Sending everyone the same message, instead of delivering relevant content to different segments. For example, if I’ve indicated an interest in cancer research, failing to customize my appeal communications around an urgent need for cancer research funding.” – Mike Snusz
- “You are sending your appeal at the wrong time. There are two schools of ‘best time to send emails.’ Conventional wisdom says that between 8 am and 9 am have the lowest open rates, as does Monday. Most studies support that sending email on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday will yield the best results. As for time, open rates tend to be higher sent around lunch time (noon or 1 pm) EST. So the best time for the best results boil down to midweek, midday.” – Michael Gastaldo
- “You are trying to say too much using way too many words. Make the call to action clear. Give the opportunity to read more using hyperlinks, but brevity gives everyone back some cherished time. As a related comment, make sure to track all your links to see which ones are getting the most traffic. Prune or modify as needed. Repeat.” – Matt Metten
- “It’s all about you. You don’t relate your work back to the life of your supporter. You spend all of your time talking about your organization, rather than making the supporter feel involved and like they can actually make a difference. You don’t clearly spell out the benefits of giving to the potential donor. How will giving make them feel? What impact will it have on their life?” – Naomi Hamilton
- “Your appeal doesn’t get acted on because your ask isn’t clear and you’ve failed to show the impact you are making. Take a step back, look over your entire campaign and make sure what you’re trying to accomplish is very clear to those you are asking to support you. Then, show them the impact you are having at every touch point.” – Frank Barry
- Similarly… “No Call to Action. The more specific and time sensitive your call to action is, the more likely you can get people involved. Tie what you are asking for to impact with a crisp call to action.” – Ian Gruber
- “Ensure linked webpages align with the appeal message and look. For example, if your appeal encourages me to help stop bullying in schools, ensure the linked donation form also includes a one-line quote regarding stopping bullying in schools. If your appeal included a message from Farra telling me about the importance of ending hunger, include a picture of Farra on the linked webpage thanking me for my support.” – Chris Tuttle
- “Lack of Social Sharing. The success of an online campaign greatly depends on its reach. Providing opportunities for your supporters to share an online campaign with social tools will increase how far its message travels. Including social components like Facebook’s ‘Share’ and ‘Like’ buttons, Twitter’s ‘Tweet This’ button, and ShareThis’ email functionality make spreading the word easy. These social tools can be implemented quickly and will help your supporters promote the online campaign on behalf of your organization.” – Chad Norman
What makes your email campaigns successful? Don’t keep it to yourself, share your tips in the comments!