4 Email Marketing Tips for Nonprofit Fundraising Learned from Digital Benchmark Study Part 1Fundraising, Fundraising Services, Lottery fundraising, News, Non-profit fundraising, Online Fundraising, Philanthropy, Telephone Fundraising | Desi Cabrera | May 1, 2012 at 12:01 am
I regularly write about the many nonprofit fundraising research, reports and studies which provide insightful information about various aspects of fundraising, engagement and industry developments/trends. As digital marketing is growing at rapid speeds, it’s important for nonprofits to keep abreast of these various findings and results so they can best prepare future strategies.
A recent report by M+R Strategic Services and Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) titled the 2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, compiled statistics comprised from 44 participating nonprofits, including: Greenpeace USA; Human Rights Campaign; American Lung Association; American Red Cross; and World Wildlife Fundto name a few. The research includes statistics from organizations in the environmental, international, human rights and wildlife and animal welfare sectors. The study is different compared to others in that it analyzes several unique aspects of digital marketing that adds to its importance for nonprofits looking to compare and benchmark their own results.
Overall online fundraising revenue and number of gifts grew 19% and 20% respectively in 2011 over the previous year. This is in keeping with the results I recently reported from the latest Blackbaud Index. Several online initiatives contributed to this growth and included advocacy messaging, email lists, social media and mobile programs. Some interesting tips and notes from this report include:
- Determine Email Type. The email type you select will determine how effective it is. Advocacy emails perform at a higher rate than Fundraising and Newsletter type emails in Open Rates, Click-Through Rates, Response Rates and have the lowest unsubscribe rates. Nonprofits should tailor their email program type to what performs strongest to best appeal to their target supporter demographic. While advocacy type emails may perform better for some, a newsletter email may be a better format for others. Each nonprofit knows its targets best and is in the best position to make that determination.
- Quality & Quantity. Email newsletters tend to have higher click-through rates when there is more interactive content. Engaging the reader with quality content that clearly guides the reader to click on hyperlinks is important to get the desired action. In addition, participating respondents sent 3 to 5 emails on average each month with frequency increasing during end-of-year fundraising drives. This frequency may be a bit higher than generally recommended but can be effective providing it is quality content that is original and engaging each time.
- Grow Your Email List. An email program can only be as successful as the list that it is based on. In 2011, nonprofits saw their email lists grow by 16% over 2010. Impressively the Environmental sub-sector saw their list grow by 28% over the same period. More and more donors and supporters are choosing digital communications over other traditional channels. Ensuring that email address capture is part of every interaction with (potential) supporters will help increase these numbers. This includes online email registration on your website, all direct marketing mail pieces, sign up forms at events and any other communication that can secure an email address.
- The Fundraising Appeal Email. Considering the growth in other aspects of digital marketing, there was minimal growth in response to email appeals for fundraising with only a growth of 0.8% in 2011 over 2010. A surprising result but perhaps donors are hesitant to respond directly to the email fundraising appeals and prefer making their donations through other channels. Donors may not have the confidence in the security of processing their donations through this channel, as only 17% respondents completed the email drive donation form.
It’s clear that email communications can be a very engaging and cost-effective strategy for nonprofits to integrate into their overall outreach marketing programs providing they are working from a quality list, utilizing the right type of email, the content is of high quality and it’s being delivered with regular frequency. The 2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study also covers other interesting elements of digital marketing for nonprofits to take note of that I will share with you on my Thursday post.
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