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!
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 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.
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 donation 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.
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.
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%.
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
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.
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 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.