5 Steps to Speedy Fundraising Response

in Email,Fundraising,Integrated Multichannel Fundraising & Marketing

There are many reasons why you might need donors and members to respond quickly. And one of the best channels for achieving fast response is email. (Okay; the other rapid response channel is mobile which can also boost response of your email by 25% but I digress.)    

FAST response with email

When do you need donors to respond in a hurry?

If the mission of your charity includes disaster relief

If your nonprofit is impacted or damaged by a storm or other disaster, regardless of your mission. This applies to charities and associations.

Your nonprofit serves people in an area impacted by a disaster (see the DonorsChoose example below).

Still don’t see how your nonprofit might have the need to send an emergency email? Glance at this list of possible scenarios:

 Heavy rains or a hurricane flood your facility.
 Fire – either in your building or smoke and water damage from a fire fought next door; or a wild fire sweeping through thousands of acres over more than one state.
 Powerful wind storms and micro-bursts. Again the damage could be to your facility or to the grounds as many national and state parks have experienced.
 Heavy snows – especially early in the season like the October storm in the northeast – can damage trees and plants in parks, botanical gardens, historical plantations, and more.
 Tornados, earthquakes, and even the occasional volcanic eruption.

And when disaster strikes you get the best fundraising results within the first 24-72 hours.

That doesn’t give you time to build a list and cultivate a strong relationship with your email subscribers. That foundation must be laid BEFORE disaster strikes.

Be prepared for any emergency – even the unexpected that isn’t related to a weather event or natural disaster – by following these five steps.

5 Steps to Speedy Email Fundraising

1 – Build your list. Begin by making the sign-up box on your website obvious. And GIVE PEOPLE A GOOD REASON to subscribe

2 – Send regular email messages to subscribers. Send at least one email every two weeks. Include plenty of pure cultivation emails in the mix with ZERO ask.

3 – Send the genuine emergency email within 24-48 hours of when disaster strikes. The sooner the better. Tie into the news media headlines. Explain how you were impacted and WHY you need help; how the donors will make a difference by giving right now.

4 – Follow-up with progress messages. Within a week, two weeks or perhaps a month … send at least one email outlining how their money was put to work. Include a few before and after photos of what donors made possible. And thank them profusely.

5 – Continue with steps one and two. Never stop.

Recent examples of nonprofits using email to get a speedy response:

First, two examples from an article in the October 2011 issue of Direct Marketing News

DonorsChoose.org is a nonprofit that helps underfunded schools get needed supplies. After the May 22 tornado that devastated Joplin, Missouri, the charity sent out an email to help rebuild local schools. This “We Lost Everything” campaign received a 40% open rate and 10% conversion, with an average donation of $425. It was a record response.

American Red Cross used email last April after a tornado hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Although no figures were published, the “on the Ground in Tuscaloosa” campaign did its job by getting emergency funds to those who needed it the most … fast.

The New York Botanical Garden sent out an email after the major snow storm hit on October 29th. This was early in the season and the trees still had their leaves. So the weight of the wet and heavy snowfall – compounded by strong winds – did more damage than a similar storm would do in the dead of winter. They sent out an email to their donors. Their response was three times better than expected. It was a big boost to their storm recovery efforts and unexpected expenses.

Again, you can’t get that kind of help from your loyal supporters unless you’ve laid the foundation in advance. Follow the five steps outlined above. Oh, and augment your email with promotion in other channels such social media and mobile to spread the word. Integrated campaigns also raise more money.

Email is one of the prime channels to use when you need to raise money fast … for whatever reason.

More posts on maximizing email performance for your nonprofit:

Cultivate with email to build retention and generosity

7 guidelines for emails readers respond to

Re-engage inactive email subscribers