Build Your Donor-Email Momentum

Build On Your Donor-Email Momentum

In Build Support by lisavgray

Nonprofits saw a 32% increase in online giving in 2020. That’s a big single-year increase. And it means you have a big opportunity in 2021, if you can keep that momentum going. Sending better emails to smaller lists is one place to start.

THE DATA

M+R Strategic Services provides online marketing to “engage the masses and raise money + raise hell for causes we believe in.” Every year M+R creates its Benchmark Survey of nonprofits and their online fundraising efforts. Check-out the entire report here.

One data point that won’t surprise too many nonprofiteers: Across all the survey responders, online revenue increased by 32% in 2020. Nonprofits working to allievate hunger/poverty saw an average 173% online-giving increase in 2020.

Yowza.

The Benchmarks Report is chock full of illuminating charts and editorial – I encourage you to read it through. But this graph is the one I want to drill into today:

[There was] … “a surge in one-time giving to COVID response nonprofits. They reported a 41% increase in one-time revenue, while non-COVID response nonprofits saw one-time revenue rise by 21%.  … [T]he change in monthly giving was the same for COVID nonprofits and for non-COVID response nonprofits (26%).”

M+R Benchmark Survey 2021

Growth in first-time giving. Growth in monthly giving. These two findings represent monstrous opportunity for those organizations that can retain these donors. Allow me to offer a simple donor-email plan you can use and expand to continue your momentum through 2021.

YOUR LISTS

This is a sermon I may over-preach: break your mailing list into small, meaningful groups, and tailor your emails to fit the group. Here’s a basic breakdown you might employ for everyone who gave in 2020:

LIST #1: First Gift Ever in 2020 – and maybe you breakdown this group even more by:

  • Gave online
  • Gave by check

LIST #2: Multi-year Donors who gave again in 2020 – and maybe you breakdown this group even more by:

  • 1 gift in 2020
  • 2+ gifts in 2020
  • Monthly givers

LIST #3: Haven’t Given Yet

YOUR EMAIL CONTENT

What impact did your organization have in 2020? Craft one story – or a dozen – about individuals whose lives were changed by your work. Post that story (with pictures, please!) on your website, with a clear Call-to-Donate.

Draft an email that goes something like this:

  • Dear Name – insert the name, if you know it
  • Graph 1 – Summarize or set-up a 2020 Impact Story of how your work changed someone’s life in 2020. Link to the full story on your website.
  • Graph 2 – Talk about how the recipient’s 2020 support helped change this life. The donor was part of a much larger group who wanted to make real change happen.
  • Graph 3 – Give a clear Call-to-Action to ask the recipient to do more now.
  • Sign the email with a real person’s name, signature, and title.
  • Add a PS that links to other 2020 Impact Stories their gift made possible.

Now modify your draft email to more closely fit what you know of each list and sub-list:

  • For First-Ever Gift (online) in 2020 – Modify Graph 2: Talk about how the recipient’s first-time support in 2020 helped change this life. The donor was part of a much larger group of first-time donors who wanted to make real change happen. Modify Graph 3: Give a clear Call-to-Action that references ongoing need in our community and ask the recipient to give again now.
  • For First-Ever Gift (check) in 2020 – send a printed letter with a response mechanism, if you don’t have an email address. If you do have an email address, still send this appeal as a separate list, so you can track results of each sub-list later.
  • Multi-year Donors who gave one gift in 2020 – Modify Graph 2: Talk about how the recipient’s continued support in 2020 helped change this life. The donor belongs to your broad community of support that wants to make real change happen. Modify Graph 3: Give a clear Call-to-Action that references ongoing need in our community and asks the recipient to give again now.
  • Multi-year Donors who gave 2+ gifts in 2020 – Modify Graph 2: Talk about how the recipient’s multiple gifts in 2020 helped change this life. The donor belongs to your broad community of support that wants to make real change happen. Modify Graph 3: Give a clear Call-to-Action that references ongoing need in our community and asks the recipient to join your special group of monthly donors now.
  • Multi-year Donors who were monthly donors in 2020 – Modify Graph 2: Talk about how the recipient’s regular gifts in 2020 helped change this life. The donor belongs to your broad community of support that wants to make real change happen. Modify Graph 3: Give a clear Call-to-Action that references ongoing need in our community and asks the recipient to increase her/his gift by $x/month now. Explain very briefly the impact this increase could create.
  • Haven’t Given Yet – Modify Graph 2: Applaud the recipient’s interest in this issue. They are part of a growing group of citizens who recognize that real change is possible. Modify Graph 3: Give a clear Call-to-Action to ask the recipient to take action today and give their first gift. Give this email 1-2 weeks for impact. To those who do not open the email, send a follow-up to ask if you should continue to email them. To those who open but do not act, send a one-question survey: what information would you like to receive from us in the future? Then act upon their response, if you can!

After sending this set of emails, set aside an hour to look at your results. Who opened? Who clicked? Who gave? Then try something fresh the next time: an email that comes from one of your volunteers; an email that features a quote from one of the people who benefit from your work. Test more creative approaches – just make sure they all keep your organization’s Impact Story front-and-center.

One other data-point from the M+R Benchmark Survey: In 2020, nonprofits sent 59 emails per subscriber (that’s about 1 per week), and raised $78 for every 1,000 emails sent. In 2020, email volume mattered. So keep your emails short, and think about sending more emails.

I hope you’ll try this, or something like this, with your email lists. Let me know what you learn please. And if you need help deciding where to start, I‘m here to help you!