Acquiring New Donors, One Email at a Time

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03 Mar Acquiring New Donors, One Email at a Time

Don’t you wish there were a magic bean that could instantly grow the number of passionate donors for your nonprofit? That would make our lives much easier! But unfortunately there isn’t one, and this is the reason why an omni-channel approach to fundraising is essential in attracting financial support from individual donors, both offline and online.

The goal of an omni-channel strategy is to optimize each possible entry point for financial support.
Today we are going to talk about one of these entry points: email. Specifically, email acquisition.
Email has proven to be an effective way to generate revenue. NTEN’s 2015 Benchmark study shows that 22 percent of all nonprofit online revenue comes from email. That’s why it has become so important for organizations to grow their email file size and improve email communication strategies.

One thing that is crucial to point out is that email acquisition works differently than direct mail acquisition. Direct mail acquisition is a one-step process. With direct mail, an organization rents or trades “cold prospect” lists and mails to those potential donors. They are considered cold prospects because they may never have heard of the organization or have not had any communication with the organization in the past.

Email acquisition, however, is a three-step process. The first step is to acquire a person’s email address. Once you have a person’s email, they are considered a warm prospect because they have provided your organization with personal information and have opened the door to communicate with them. The second step is to acquire the warm prospect’s attention. How? By creating a welcoming experience. This can be done through initial emails showing your organization’s appreciation for their interest and content that cements their decision to share their email with you. Soft requests for financial support can be included, but the goal for step two is high email open rates. The third step is to acquire a gift. Step three requires an ongoing email communication stream filled with compelling content and messaging that resonates with your warm prospect so that they choose the action of giving a gift. The goal here is a high conversion rate.

To get you started on your email acquisition journey, here are 10 ways to actively acquire email:

• During non-peak fundraising seasons, use light boxes on your website to request email sign-up.
• Prominently (the key word is prominently) display a sign-up option at the top of your home page navigation and make the sign-up page easy to fill out on a desktop or mobile device.
• Request emails at the end of a blog post or after any free content.
• Possibly require that someone provide their email first before viewing free content or a blog post.
• Promote email sign-up on your social networks.
• Add a “Sign Up” call-to-action button on your Facebook page.
• Require that all event registration take place online.
• Use your Google Grant (if you have one) to create text ads that link to an email sign-up page.
• Include an email sign-up call-to-action in all offline collateral and direct mail campaigns.
• Collect emails at events if you haven’t already collected them during registration.

A bonus step to acquiring emails is through email appends of your current offline donors. This has about a 20 to 25 percent match rate and opens another channel of communications for content and requests for support.

Last, email campaigns will generate a lot of online “white mail.” So don’t forget to match online white mail gifts to your email deployment list to properly report results of your email efforts!

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