With all the buzz about social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, we can lose track of tried-and-true outreach tools. Though these other platforms might be great ways to advertise events or spread late-breaking news about your organization’s work, they are (yet?). John Haydon at Inbound Zombie and Razoo Fundraising has been crunching numbers to demonstrate the fact that email remains the best way not only to bring in donations, but to bring in bigger donations.
What makes email, the communications platform that seems oh-so-90s, so successful as a fundraising platform?
Well, like any communication, email outreach must be done well and it must be done with the proper audience in mind. Is your organization’s email blast going to new subscribers who might not appreciate your organization’s history of success? Is the blast going to established supporters who might be ready to ratchet up their gifts? Do your email lists take into account different audiences so you can send different appeals? If not, your organization should invest in some heavy-duty email services like MailChimp, ConstantContact, or VerticalResponse. And your organization should start polishing its messages and appeals to the supporters who want or need to hear those specific messages.
What is the reward for such efforts? John Haydon points to numbers that demonstrates the fact that email donations double the amounts of their closest competitor, YouTube (not Facebook!). John credits email’s success to the fact that people sign up for email lists (and you should give them the opportunity to unsubscribe with each email!), and thus want to be involved in some way.
He also points out that the investment in following the emails encourages generosity once you ask for financial support. We would add that an email trail or thread will likely build up before a donation request is fulfilled, which gives prospective donors a growing sense of personal connection to your cause that periodic tweets in a Twitter tsunami can not hope to match.
Not everyone will read every e-newsletter. And some will join your lists, then unsubscribe after a few weeks or months. But of those who remain, opportunities for fundraising are double what they are on other social-media platforms. Technology of the 1990s is still looking pretty good. If only we could get that price of $1.35 for a gallon of gas…