This holiday season, your organization will be competing with thousands of others for coveted space in email inboxes all over the world. It is estimated that nonprofit organizations send an average of SEVEN email fundraising appeals per subscriber during December. So how can your organization stand out? Will Frechette, GlobalGiving’s Digital Marketing Specialist, joined us for a webinar on October 29th to share share his experiences and some best practices. A recording of the webinar can be found here.
By using GlobalGiving’s very own core values of Listen, Act, Learn. Repeat (LALR), your organization can craft a story that sticks to people and stands out from the crowd.
First off, what makes a good story?
- Who is your protagonist? A staff member, a beneficiary or a donor?
- Who or what is the antagonist? A global problem that your organization is tackling?
- Who is your narrator? A staff member, a beneficiary or a donor? A unique perspective might be all your need to capture the attention of your donors!
- Create a storyline by sending multiple emails out over the course of the month
- Start with an exposition. (An introduction to your characters, themes and what you want to accomplish with the donations).
- Create rising action and build up to a climax. (Highlight the problem that your organization is facing).
- Falling action and Resolution. (How have your donors helped to solve the problem and what will future donations do to help?). Their involvement will help solve the tension that you are building!
Listen to your:
- Audience – What are your donors telling you?
- Use email analytics to measure the success of each email. GlobalGiving’s web analytics is a helpful tool. You can measure the open rate, conversion rate, click-through rate, and average donation size.
- Peers – What are some of the successful practices of other nonprofits?
Best Practice #1 – Subject Lines
- Be short & direct
- 34 characters or less (emails on mobile phone browsers wrap after 34 characters)
- Your subject line starts the story so make it attention grabbing!
Best Practice #2 – Bold, high-resolution images
- Our studies show that bold, high-resolution images increase click-through rates by 44%!
- A few examples of great photos here, here, and here!
Best Practice #3 – Calls to action!
- Have a single call to action in each email!
- This focuses your audience on taking a specific action.
Best Practice #4 – Send multiple messages
- Although message volume increases in December, open and click-through rates don’t.
- Plan to send many emails over the course of the month to build up support.
- However, beware of email fatigue and donors unsubscribing.
- Whenever possible, provide additional incentives for your audience to give.
- GlobalGiving has our Year-End Campaign and a #GivingTuesday campaign for Microsoft YouthSpark eligible organizations only.
Act: Plan your story and plan your tests!
- Plan your email storytelling campaign in advance. Use individual stories of staff on the ground, donors or beneficiaries, and make it part of a larger storytelling campaign!
Learn: Test what works and use past emails and campaigns as benchmarks!
- Plan your tests and see what works best!
- Test subject lines (measures open rates)
- Protagonists (click-through & conversion rates)
- Narrator (potentially all rates)
- Call to action (click-through & conversion rate)
- Images (click-through & conversion rate)
Repeat: Remember what was successful and repeat in 2015!
- Take notes of what works for your organization and repeat in 2015!
- Join us for a webinar on Wednesday, January 21 reflect on lessons learned from 2014 year-end fundraising. Use data-driven techniques to analyze the results of your efforts and to make smart decisions about your communications and fundraising in 2015. Sign up here.
Final Parting words from Will:
- The best stories are the ones you already tell
- Subscribe to other nonprofit newsletters to learn best practices.
- Be consistent over all media of communication!
Remember, GlobalGiving is offering two promotions to help you drive donation activity this December. Learn more about our Year-End Campaign and Microsoft YouthSpark #GivingTuesday to decide which campaign is right for your organization!
This post was written by Lucius Lee, Program Team Intern.