Lately, I’ve been approached to review the email fundraising strategies of multiple Catholic organizations. This interest in email is a growing trend, and it’s become so important that I want to share a few thoughts with you on how to do it right the first time.
Why email is so popular with fundraising
Email is increasingly popular for three reasons: First, it’s much easier to get a person’s email address than a postal address or phone number. So it’s much easier to contact them – which is always “Step One” because, if you can’t reach someone, you can’t ask them.
Secondly, email is an excellent way to communicate with people. On average, people check their email three times a day. You may feel that email is a crowded space for getting your message heard, but it is much less crowded than social media, billboards and direct mail. Every appeals space may be flooded, but email still, unequivocally, proves best.
The third reason confirms the prior two. On average, email generates a 122% return on the cost to run a campaign. When you compare that to the other mediums – especially direct mail and social media – there is no competition. Email is king and that is why email has grown exponentially in popularity.
How to run an email campaign
When I am asked to help Catholics run their email campaigns, my first step (always) is to teach them the fundamental building blocks. If you don’t have the building blocks, your message – no matter how inspiring to you – will never be heard.
But if you follow four simple rules, you’ll be heading in the right direction.
Rule #1 – Be Personal
The age of formal email newsletters has passed. Today, people want to connect with people, particularly because so much of our lives are surrounded by technology. Choose everyday language, short sentences, and speak in the first person.
A good rule of thumb is to write as if you’re writing to your best friend or a loved one.
Follow Saint Paul’s approach to writing. The age of formal email newsletters has passed. Today, people want to connect with people, particularly because so much of our lives are surrounded by technology. Choose everyday language, short sentences, and speak in the first person. A good rule of thumb is to write as if you’re writing to your best friend or a loved one. Galatians 6:11 #galatians #stpaul #saintpaul #catholic #catholicchurch #christian #bible #scripture #jesus #jesuschrist #writing #writer #letter #lovedone
Rule #2 – Use email regularly
You want to keep people updated on a regular basis. You may think an email every week or two weeks is a lot but in fact, it’s not. Statistics show that regular communication is more effective than occasional… meaning monthly, quarterly or bi-annually.
This means sharing important information, not just sending a message for the sake of sending something (that’s the most surefire way to turn people away).
Rule #3 – Don’t always ask for money
This may strike you as a novelty because every email I receive from a Catholic organization always asks for a donation. It’s like always being hit up for $5 from that one family member who is always trying to get out of a jam. Eventually, we stop responding – or even opening – the message because no matter what we give… it’s not enough.
Stewardship – which is what you should aim for with your fundraising – is about taking care of those around you.
So make sure you also take care of them. I have written an article outlining the recommendations of a Monsignor heralded by the US Bishops Conference as “the go-to expert” on stewardship. Make sure to check the article by clicking this link.
Rule #4 – When asking, be emotional AND logical
It’s said that our emotions drive our responses. Emotions, however, aren’t why we continue doing things. If you want donors to keep coming back (and this always should be your goal), you must also use logic. When you do ask via email, make sure that you present your request emotionally and logically.
A simple way of doing this is my explaining the problem you are trying to solve emotionally, and then you explain your plan for solving the problem logically.
If you want to start using email – or improve your next email campaign – make sure to contact me by clicking this link. I’d be happy to offer a few more tips. Remember, if your fundraising is going to help you save lives and souls, I want to help you do that.