I’ve spent the last month or so talking about email and how to think like a direct marketing pro when creating your campaigns. My hope is during the slower months you’ll go ahead and set up your email campaigns, so you don’t need to bother with email during the busy event session. The plan is to work smarter and not harder. You already know the email content (update last year’s emails… right?), so let’s create content, segment participants, schedule emails and then forget about them.
Imagine all the things you’ll be able to do during the busy months, now that you don’t need to worry about sending fundraising emails. While some of you might not think emails take a while, especially if you’re re-using last year’s content, the truth is they do.
It’s not actually creating an email that takes awhile, but it’s all the other things that distract you when you’re sitting at your computer. Has this ever happened to you: You’re in Sphere (or another email provider) and you get distracted by 90 characters in the Outlook alert, you click and read the message; then reply; check your inbox again; yup same messages still there that you didn’t want to respond to; then you try to remember what you were doing before you got distracted by those 90 characters… Oh right I was creating my team captain email. Before you know it its 5pm and you still never sent your team captain email. You could eliminate this entire process, by creating your email campaigns in advance and work smarter not harder.
Now, that you’ve set up your email campaigns it’s time to put the computer away and stop email-dating your participants. Go meet them! I know you probably can’t meet all of them, but make it a point to call everyone. Plan to visit top fundraisers, corporate teams, team captains, and go to events hosted by teams. Going participant’s events is a great way to show your support. Attending their event is something they’ll remember next year, when you ask them to sign up again.
Get out from behind your desk and hit the road just like a major gift officer. Believe me meeting your participants is a heck of a lot better than online dating. The only thing worse than online dating is when your married friends say “oh, it sounds like so much fun, you get to meet new people, go for dinner, etc…” Don’t be fooled by the commercials, online dating is awful. Even those who’ve meet their significant other via online dating will agree… it’s awful.
Individuals participating in your event signed up because they care and want to support your organization. Building relationships with participants requires more than an email. Have you ever wondered why P2P events have such a low retention rate? It’s probably because participants were not made to feel that their participation mattered. How many times have you heard a participant say they we’re too busy to participate again this year? I’ve heard it before and I just realized what a horrible and hurtful answer they’ve given. Too busy, if you’re getting this answer you need to ask yourself “What can I do to make you feel that this one day event is important and more important than a weekly soccer game?” The other question to ask is “How can I make people feel their participation matters?”
The latter question is actually a little easier to tackle. Call your participants; invite them to an open house at your office; meet them in person; offer to host a kick off at their company; attend their fundraising events; send participants a hand written note. Email is important, necessary; a helpful way to disseminate information as well as encourage fundraising, but you can’t just email your participants.
Today’s assignment… brainstorm ideas for how you can treat your participants like major gift prospects. I’d love to hear your ideas, please share your ideas below.