5 Questions Nonprofits Should Ask Before Sending Their Email Newsletter

Written by Azure Collier, social media education developer for Constant Contact

A nonprofit marketer who I know personally and who happens to be a Constant Contact customer recently asked me this question:

“Can you give me suggestions on how we can boost our open rate? If you look at our history, we only average about 15 percent or so. I do have to admit that our list isn’t probably our ‘best friend,’ it has been piecemeal together from various events over the years.”

Whenever you’re sending an email newsletter, you’re fighting for attention in the inbox of your audience. They’re looking at a steady stream of messages, so you need yours to stand out!NP-Newsletter-790x310

So before you hit send on your next newsletter or announcement, ask yourself these questions:

1. Are your subject lines compelling?

A subject line like February Newsletter  isn’t going to get your readers’ attention. It’s just not exciting — it doesn’t tell your audience what’s in the email, why they should take the time to open it, or how this month’s newsletter is different from last month’s edition.

Instead, try any of these subject line templates:

  • [#] volunteers needed for [Name of Event]
  • Your donation helped [#] people last month
  • [#] ways you can get involved this month

2. Do you have interesting visuals in your emails?

A lot of people use the preview panel when reading emails, and if they’re on a mobile phone, they’ll only see a small portion of the top. Get their attention by using real photos of volunteers or a program in action. People will relate to those images — they might know those people, that building, or a place in the local area — and that might get them to open the email to read more.

Need some ideas and resources for images? There are plenty of tips in our How to Use Images to Bring Your Emails to Life guide.

3. Is the email content interesting to your readers?

A mistake I see a lot of nonprofits make is sending every press release to their general audience. Your audience is not your media distribution list. Unless it’s extremely important breaking news — urgent help needed with a local emergency, or announcing a multimillion dollar donation — send your press releases to the media, and don’t distribute them to your entire contact list.

You do need to get the word out about your organization’s news. So include the headline and the first few sentences in your regular email newsletters, and link to the full press release on your website.

4. Is this the right frequency and timing for my email?

Are you sending emails at a time when your audience is available to read them? If people don’t have access to check email during the day — using a smartphone or a desktop — they’re going to look at their inbox at the beginning and end of the day, and only view the important messages. The rest will get deleted because their emails are piling up.

Also consider how often you are sending your emails. If your audience is receiving too many, they may stop opening your messages or unsubscribe altogether. Try testing different times and dates, and use your email reporting to find which schedule is getting the best open rates.

5. Do you know what your audience really wants?

The best way to find out if the subject lines, content, and frequency are working for your audience is to ask them.

Use surveys or social media to find out what they want to hear about from you and how often they want to hear it. You’ll not only find out what works for your readers, but they’ll appreciate that their opinions and needs matter to you.

Go do it!

Once you’ve asked these questions, you’ll get a good picture of how to effectively build relationships between your nonprofit and your loyal supporters. My nonprofit marketing friend has used these tips to make his emails more audience-focused, and he’s already getting positive results on his open rate.

You can too! Log in to your Constant Contact account.

Not a Constant Contact customer? See how one nonprofit raises $1,000 per email with Constant Contact.


Azure Collier

Azure Collier is a social media education developer for Constant Contact. She hosts Constant Contact’s social media webinars. The rest of the time, you’ll find her online researching social media, email marketing and small business. And watching cat videos.

by sgoldenberg

Feb 26 15

Register for the Basics of Social Media Free Webinar!

Have you been thinking about marketing your nonprofit with social media, but you feel overwhelmed?facebooktwitterlinkedin

Join Constant Contact’s webinar on Thursday, February 26th and learn the basics of social media. Constant Contact’s Content Manager Azure Collier will show you the value of using social media to reach your constituents, how it can lead to new constituents and how it drives repeat donations from your current donors. This webinar will be open to for-profits as well, so the language may be geared towards “customers” and “businesses”, but the lessons apply to both sectors.

Azure will also take a look at the 5 most popular social media networks -Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest – and help you decide what is right for your nonprofit. We’ll also look at what comes next: how and what to post on social media.

Register Now!
URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3106469258002734850

Get started with a free account

If you are new to Constant Contact and have questions about how to set up an account, feel free to call their coaches at 1-855-797-4708 or sign up for a free trial here http://softerware.constantcontact.com/index.jsp.

Already a customer?

If you are already a customer and are looking for support, please call Constant Contact’s support at 1-(855)-854-8609 or email partnersupport@constantcontact.com

by sgoldenberg

Feb 23 15

Announcing The New EFT for Recurring Donations & 90% Donor Retention

The Most Powerful Monthly Giving Feature Yet

We set out on a mission to make your job as easy as possible when running a recurring donation program. Although we’ve had this feature in DonorPerfect for many years, it was time to take it to the next level. After months of careful work and Beta testing, we’re please to announce our most integrated monthly donation solution for your most loyal donors. This new version of EFT will replace the current version on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015.

What’s EFT Management?

DonorPerfect’s EFT Management processes credit cards and bank accounts for all recurring pledges that are due. Once a donor submits payment account information, whether submitted through a WebLink or entered manually, EFT will begin processing their donation every month! Whether you have five or 5,000 monthly donors, this scalable solution will save you time and money. Some of these benefits include: eliminating pledge reminders and calls, reducing pledge delinquency or lateness, reducing 90-EFTRetentionRatedonation processing work to a few clicks, speeding funds to your bank account, and more.

Hundreds of DonorPerfect clients have already seen a 90% or more retention rate for donors who sign up to donate through EFT! The new version will likely increase your donor retention rate and help you  raise even more money every month.



When you’re ready to process (recommended at least once per month), simply navigate to Tasks > EFT Management to begin. Here, you’ll preview the EFT transactions that are due for processing.


One of the many new features we’ve added is a pre-processing status to indicate how likely a payment is to succeed. This allows you to quickly address accounts that might need attention before processing.

  • Ready – Process away!
  • Caution – This account has previously failed once or the credit card has expired. However, some expired cards may still process successfully.
  • Warning – Most likely, this will fail again because it has failed multiple times previously. We recommend you contact the donor for updated payment information.email-image

Once you’ve reviewed the payment accounts, check the box for the ones you want to process, review the totals, and submit for processing. Another time-saving enhancement we added is the ability to process credit cards, bank accounts, and multiple currencies at the same time.

Now, while EFT is processing, you can navigate to anywhere in DonorPerfect to do other fundraising work. When EFT is complete, we’ll send you an email with the results.

Review EFT Batch History


Each time you process transactions through EFT, the results will be available by batch. You can view the five most recent EFT batches on the processing screen. (Note: Batches will begin displaying after you process your initial transactions with this new version). Don’t worry, a full history of your EFT batches will always be available on the EFT History tab.

Easily Follow up with Donors if Payments Fail

Following up with failed payments is easier than ever! You can export failed payments with each donor’s contact information to call, email, or send a letter for updated payment info. In addition, if an ACH payment is returned several days after processing because of insufficient funds, DonorPerfect will automatically update the Gift record to a Failed status.

Schedule Future Processing

If you need to be out of the office on a day you’d like to process your EFT transactions – no problem! Choose the processing day so you can enjoy the beach (or the ski slopes) and let DonorPerfect do the work for you. Also, DonorPerfect will confirm that these future payments are successful and will update them automatically if any transactions fail.

See our Knowledgebase to learn everything about EFT Management as well as the other enhancements in this release.

Thank You Beta Testers & Suggest and Vote Supporters

We really value your feedback to ensure DonorPerfect is easy to use and reduces your work. Many of these enhancements came from over 25 ideas that our beta testers and clients submitted through Suggest and Vote. Have an idea for us to work on next? Visit Suggest and Vote to let us know!

Want to Start a Recurring Gift Program but don’t have EFT yet?

Simply contact your Account Manager to sign up for EFT Management today!

* Median donor retention rate for DonorPerfect EFT donors from 2013 to 2014 is 90%.


Josh Nelson
by Josh Nelson

Feb 20 15

Top 4 Strategies to Identify New Major Gift Prospects

Written by Sarah Tedesco, Senior Vice President of DonorSearch

Who doesn’t love it when their birthday present comes wrapped in a giant, glossy box topped with a bow? Bigger doesn’t always mean better, but it does in the case of charitable donations. Your fundraiser wants every big gift it can get, because your mission matters.

More major gifts won’t come to you just because you want them. The key to major gift fundraising success is saddling up and riding out to discover new major gift prospects.

There are four main strategies for identifying new major gift prospects:

     1. Screen Your Most Loyal Donors

Your journey for new major donors begins at home. Take the time to assess the donors you already have in order to identify if any of them might be the major gift prospects you seek. search-records

If donors have given repeatedly to your nonprofit then they obviously care about your work. These faithful donors may give small amounts to your cause, but large gifts to other nonprofits. You want to identify these loyal donors and discover if they have the financial capacity to give an additional major gift to your organization.

Loyal donors also matter because, while they may be unable to donate significantly at present, they have the potential to acquire more wealth or financial flexibility and be capable in the future.

A survey revealed that charitable bequests were 2.74 times higher than lifetime donations, and 78% of planned giving donors gave 15 or more gifts to the nonprofits named in their wills. Just like fireworks displays have grand finales, loyal donors may be saving their largest gifts until the end. This makes any loyal donor, even one who gives gifts under $5k, someone worth paying attention to.

Check out more helpful prospect statistics here.

     2. Find Donors Who Support Related Nonprofits

Beyond the walls of your nonprofit lie other nonprofits with their own donors. Prospect research can help you find annual reports, on which you can discover introduction level information on major donors, such as names and their level of giving. From there, you can conduct prospect research on the names to wane the lists down to the major gift prospects that might donate to you. Know the indicators of the best donors to save time for other fundraising efforts.

Seek annual reports from nonprofits with similar missions to your own, as many prospects focus their gifts on specific causes, such as education or fighting hunger.

     3. Leverage Your Donors’ Relationships with Foundations or Corporate Boards

Many of your donors are actively involved in the community through philanthropy or business ties. Some of these people volunteer and serve on the boards of various foundations and corporations. You want to meet these people, because they have both the capacity to give and an affinity for nonprofits.

Being a board member for a major corporation is a signifier of wealth. Donors who serve on boards but give small gifts to your nonprofit are targets for becoming major gifts prospects.

Board members of foundations may not necessarily have lots of money, but many of them do, and can be viewed similarly to corporate board members. Less wealthy foundation board members can still be major gift prospects, but for more philanthropic reasons. These people are highly invested in a nonprofit, and understand the importance of charitable giving. They are likely to give, and even if not in a major capacity at first, donors always have the potential to acquire more wealth and to become major donors in the future.

Board members of both types are likely to have connections to other potential major gift donors. This is the concept of important people know other important people, and the board members you know can introduce you to new prospects.

     4. Take Advantage of Donor Interaction Opportunities

Some organizations have one time events, such as museums that host opening nights. Other organizations are always coming into contact with new prospects, such as schools who receive new students with new potentially generous parents each semester. Both one-time and ongoing interaction opportunities are great chances to fortify relationships with loyal donors and to meet new prospects.

Plan ahead and know who will be in attendance at your event or who has been newly admitted to your hospital. Prospect research allows your representatives to prepare for specific prospects with tailored pitches.

Organizations who meet prospects through sporadic, one-time events should conduct regular prospect research to keep their databases updated and to identify new prospects to invite to the next event. Nonprofits with ongoing donation processes should always be screening, whether daily or weekly, in order to learn as much as possible about their influxes of new potential donors. It’s one thing to see the fish in the pond, and quite another get them to bite the bait.

Major gift prospects don’t hide under rocks, but you’ve got to be looking in order to find them. Employ a multifaceted search, know how to use prospect data, and find those major donors to provide a boost to your fundraising campaign.


Sarah Tedesco, Senior Vice President at DonorSearch

Sarah Tedesco is the Senior Vice President at DonorSearch, a prospect research and wealth screening company that focuses on proven philanthropy. Sarah is responsible for managing the production and customer support department concerning client contract fulfillment, increasing retention rate and customer satisfaction. She collaborates with other team members on a variety of issues including sales, marketing and product development ideas.


by sgoldenberg

Feb 19 15

Announcing a Faster WebLink, 6 New Templates, and Duplicate Preventing Features

Refactoring for a Faster WebLink

Our first WebLink release of 2015 is focused on refactoring the code to make WebLink faster and even more reliable. Refactoring (making the programming code more efficient) will also allow us to add new features from Suggest and Vote faster than ever before.

The first improvement you’ll notice is a faster WebLink RAC screen. It was time to say goodbye to a slower load time for large systems.


Six New Templates to Choose From

Jump start your fundraising with one of many WebLink templates. No matter how you want to fundraise online, we have a WebLink form template you can customize to meet your unique needs. In this release, we added six new templates to the Self-Service Template Library.

  1. Recurring Gift Only – A proven fundraising strategy for recurring donations is to only have one option: give monthly. This form will allow you to specify the monthly amount and sign your donors up for recurring giving to be processed through DonorPerfect’s EFT feature.
  2. Multiple Page Donation Without Recurring Gift – Your donors can now choose their one-time donation amount and renew their membership from this multi-page template.
  3. Bowling Registration – You can have up to 10 bowlers register, provide sponsorship options, and even offer an additional donation option for your next bowling event.
  4. Event Volunteer Application – Send your volunteers to this form to learn what their interests are.
  5. UK Event Volunteer Application – We haven’t forgotten our friends across the pond. This form has specific UK address fields for your volunteers.
  6. Brick/Paver Sales – Selling bricks and pavers to support your mission through WebLink has never been easier.

Simply click Add New Form in WebLink to begin using one of these new templates.


New Matching Feature to Prevent Duplicates

Sometimes, you need to download the same gift from WebLink into DonorPerfect twice because it was deleted. However, you never want to create duplicates! This new feature prevents you from accidentally creating duplicates when downloading from WebLink into DonorPerfect. Now, WebLink checks to see if the entry already exists in DonorPerfect before downloading.


Automatic Download Option to Update

When you enable WebLink to automatically download your records into DonorPerfect, there’s a new feature to update Main and Bio information. This allows you to update name, address, membership, and any other field on the donor’s Main or Bio screen.


A Tighter Integration with DonorPerfect

SmartActions are automated fundraising rules in DonorPerfect that go to work so you don’t have to. The next time you download from WebLink, an email can be automatically sent to your board when a donation comes in over $1,000 or important fields can be updated. Simply enable your SmartActions to take advantage of this integration.

Another powerful feature that will update after downloading from WebLink is Calculated Fields.

Now, all of your advanced and highly customized calculations will update for the records that are downloaded.

See our Release Notes for a complete list of the great things in this release in addition to the bugs we squashed.


A Look into 2015

We have a ton of great enhancements planned for this year including:

  • An even faster, more reliable architecture
  • Mobile device responsive forms
  • An optional processing fee that can be paid by your donors
  • Promotional codes that allow you to provide early bird and other discounts on registrations, item purchases, etc.
  • Customizable display of your form based on a selected value. For example, display only registration options and fields related to age, gender, dates that are entered, rather than having to scroll through all options that may not apply).
by Cheryl Keen

Feb 11 15