By Margaret Farmakis
Senior Director, Response Consulting
The British public are a charitable lot. Donations to non-profit organizations totalled £1.3 billion in calendar year 2007/2008, with cash being the most popular form of giving. A few stand-out organizations (of the 171,000 charities registered in the UK as of 2007) include Barnardo’s, dedicated to helping vulnerable children through fostering programs and domestic violence education; Marie Curie Cancer Care, providing free nursing care for terminally ill cancer patients; and Mencap, offering support services for people with learning disabilities and their families.
Not surprisingly, email plays a large part in the fundraising initiatives of these organizations. According to a recent study by non-profit technology solutions provider Blackbaud, 62% of non-profits are using email as their most common form of communication with donors, just slightly behind direct mail. When done right, email can make non-profit organizations a lot of money, but when done wrong, marketers run two major risks.
The first risk is that subscribers quickly get tired of irrelevant email and start to tune out, lose interest and unsubscribe. The second risk is that irrelevant email can also cause subscribers to register a complaint with the ISPs and report the email as spam. The more complaints that are registered, the more likely the marketer is to have their email delivered to the junk or spam folder (instead of the inbox) or potentially be blocked all together.
Why does this matter? One irrelevant email campaign can seriously impact the deliverability and response rates of all subsequent email campaigns. For organizations that are relying on email to raise awareness, increase fundraising contributions and build a community of active and engaged subscribers and donors, these risks simply aren’t worth taking.
And yet, many non-profit organizations ignore basic email marketing best practices that will help to ensure their emails get delivered and get a response. A Return Path study of 20 UK-based non-profit organizations showed that:
So what can non-profit organizations do to improve the ROI of their email programs? Here are three tips:
Want three more tips? Register for Blackbaud’s London Relationship Management Conference for non-profits and attend my 9:30 AM session on October 13th: Email Marketing for Fun(draising) and (Non)Profit. I look forward to seeing you there!