Last year I gave time or money to 10 non-profit organizations and I’m not sure I’ll give to any of them again this year.
As a result of my donations I’m now on the receiving end of non-profit communication galore. Direct mailers, quarterly newsletters, crowdfunding campaigns, Facebook invites, phone calls - you name it - I’m getting it.
Lowly donor that I am, the depth of these communication attempts can best be summed up as superficial.
It turns out that superficial communication doesn’t inspire me to take action. As fast as your quarterly newsletter makes it into my inbox, it’s marked as “save for later,” which is my way of deleting your email without the guilt.
Of all the ways non-profits try to “connect”, there’s only one approach that gets my attention - a consistent, thoughtful email strategy.
The non-profits who consistently send me interesting, value-add emails, earn my attention. And once you have my attention, my second gift is yours to lose.
"If I send my donors multiple emails, they’ll head for the hills!”
We’ve all heard or said this before. We think that by sending donors multiple emails every month, our open and click rates will plummet.
But guess what, that’s not true! And I can prove it.
At GoodUnited we help nonprofits send personalized donor emails without the hassle. For the past 3 months, we ran a test to see how open and clicks rates for weekly donor emails compared to open and click rates for a single quarterly newsletter.
With attention being a key input to receiving a second gift, we wanted to see how a consistent email strategy affects engagement.
During this test, we sent over 250,000 emails to ~22,000 donors (about one email per week) and measured unique opens and clicks.
Key Finding #1
Sending emails every week did not hurt open rates. About the same number of donors opened an email every week.
Key Finding #2
New donors opened emails every single week.
Every week we saw donors who had never opened a prior email, open an email for the first time. This made for a large bump in unique opens every month.
Key Finding #3
Donors will eventually click interesting, value add content.
By sending emails every week, we saw a huge increase in unique clicks. This means that every week we saw donors who had never before clicked in an email, click for the first time.
The end result is that over a 3-month period, total unique open rates increased 275% and total unique click-rates increased by 678%.
Trying to make sense of this information, we asked a few donors why they open some nonprofit emails and not others.
“If you’re not a member of my inner circle, you need to catch me at the exact right time to get me to open an email. It’s not that I don’t care, I’m just busy with a job and two children.”
“If I delete a (nonprofit) email, and then get a second email in a short period of time, I tend to think it’s important and open it.”
“The email subject included a headline for a cause that I’m passionate about. I opened the email because it sounded interesting and I assumed it was not just another ask for money.”
Simply put, sending consistent emails might be the best way to get your donor's attention and increase your non-profit reach.
What learnings can I bring to my organization?
In an effort to make our findings impactful, here’s the top 3 things to remember:
- Donor attention is your most valuable asset. Only after you have a donors' attention can you get them to take action.
- Consistent emails can maximize your reach. You can reach a larger percentage of your donor list by sending consistent, value add emails.
- Value add isn’t always about your organization. Donors want information about the causes they care about. Try sending an email about a recent news article about a cause your organization supports. A best practice is to say how your organization is impacting that cause.
GoodUnited is the best way to tap into the unlimited potential of your Facebook fundraisers. With GoodUnited, nonprofits see: 74% more emails, 24% increase in fundraiser goals reached, and 94% of their fundraisers want to raise again.