Perplexed Walk Manager in Chicago | npENGAGE

Perplexed Walk Manager in Chicago

By on Jan 11, 2012


Thank you for your emails and comments.  Since asking readers to send me their fundraising questions, I’ve received a bunch of emails.  It’s been great reading your questions and I now have a very large list to answer.  I’m feeling like the Dear Abby of fundraising.  It’s fun!  Thank you and keep your questions, comments, and ideas coming.   So here we go in true Dear Abby format.

Dear Amy,

I’ve been an event coordinator for two years and I was recently promoted to Walk Manager.  I’m working on re-writing our emails for 2012, it’s a little overwhelming.  I’ve participated in your webinars and I really liked the idea of making our messages focused on tasks.   But, I’m having a tough time with content.  I feel like my emails seem to short and lack mission information. Do you have a preferred format for task-based emails?  How much information should I include in my emails?

Perplexed Walk Manager in Chicago

Dear Perplexed Walk Manager in Chicago: Congratulations on your recent promotion!  That’s awesome. Email can be the most confusing and challenging aspects of managing a Walk program.  Back in the day it used to be easy.  Send an email blast to your entire list, but now inboxes are completely bombarded with solicited and unsolicited messages.  So, we have to adapt and change our methods.

I’m excited to hear that you’re trying tasked based messages.  Just because you’re focusing your message on a call to action, doesn’t mean you have to eliminate mission information.  I like task-based emails, because they focus the reader on completing one simple task instead of giving them five things to do.  But, that doesn’t mean your email has to only be a couple of sentences.

My best advice when it comes to email content is to write your emails for two types of people: scanners and readers.  I believe that the world is made up of two types of people:  individuals who scan the message to get to the point quickly and individuals who read every single word.

When I write emails, I write for both scanners and readers.  For scanners, the opening sentence includes the basics: who, what, where, when and how.   Scanners, have the info they need and will hopefully take the next step and complete the task (I’m a scanner).

While I like to scan, there are people out there who read every single word (my sister falls into this category) therefore it’s important to give readers information that relates to the task.  Include instructions, share a story, and provide mission information.

Here’s the kicker… when you’re adding your stories make sure they relate to the task/call to action.  That’s what’s really important.  Not the length of the email, but making sure everything connects to the call to action.

For example: If the call to action is to personalize your webpage, then everything in your email should be about this task/action.  Your opening sentence should be about personalizing your page, include a call to action, and link to website or login screen.

If you include:

  1. A story- It should inspire someone to personalize their page.  Maybe something about how Betty personalized her page in within a few hours received five gifts.
  2. Instructions- Quick and easy steps to personalize their page.  These need to be simple and not overwhelming.  Personalizing the page is easy, most folks get stuck on what to share
  3. Three questions – Because participants sometimes have writers block, give them a few questions to get the juices flowing.  For example: Do you know someone with cancer?
  4. Importance – share why personalizing the webpage is important. Remind participants that their personal page is their own space to honor or remember a loved one or pet.

I hope this helps.  Don’t worry about the length of the email, instead focus your content.  Bottom line some participants will read your email, some will scan it, and some won’t open it.  The trick is for those who open it make sure they understand what you want them to do.

BTW – I hope my new friend in Chicago didn’t mind me reformatting his question in the Dear Abby style.  I thought it was fun.  Keep sending your questions – they don’t have to be in Dear Abby style, but I hope you enjoyed the new format.


Amy Braiterman, principal strategy consultant at Blackbaud, supports customers with their peer-to-peer fundraising events with a process she refers to as “data-driven strategy.” Amy’s data driven strategy analyzes how effective event participants are using online fundraising tools and takes those results to develop an event fundraising plan. Prior to joining Blackbaud, Amy earned her fundraising stripes managing events for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Alzheimer’s Association and Share Our Strength. She shares her fundraising know how here on npENGAGE, by hosting educational webinars and speaking at customer conferences

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