Choosing which media to place inserts in. Finding media whose circulation matches exactly the profile of supporter you want to recruit is not easy. Bearing in mind that responsiveness to direct marketing communication is the most important criterion for donor recruitment, the only readers certain to have this component of the match you want will be mail order subscribers. Choose these first as a test of the medium wherever you can. Next choose special interest magazines which match the assumed lifestyle interests of your donors. Lastly choose general interest magazines and newspapers ( such as local newspapers ).
Designing and writing. With insert leaflets, of course, the whole message and response device have to be boiled down to fit onto one sheet of paper. Most loose insert media will only allow a maximum weight of insert – in practice one sheet of A4 folded in whichever way you design. So the message needs to be concentrated and punchy. Put the entire proposition and price on the front page of the leaflet. ( e.g. Feed a hungry child for a month for just £12 ). A two colour leaflet will normally suffice – in fact documentary photography often looks better in black and white than colour.
Printing. There is no need to use a specialist printer, though beware of delivery charges if the printer is a long way from the magazine’s mailing house.
Analysing results. Follow the guidelines provided for cold mailings. Expect less than 0.2% response and expect a high level of anonymous donations. Unfortunately, loose inserts have a major downside risk. Results are extremely difficult to predict from tests as conditions vary greatly between insertion dates and, of course, vastly between different media, even if the readership is, on paper, the same profile. ( e.g. ABC1, affluent women ). This makes loose inserts as a medium really one more suited to large volume users.
The elements of the process for recruiting donors by press adverts are:
- Decide on the target market you are seeking and secure placement of the advert in magazines and newspapers you believe to have the right profile of readership for the type of person you want to recruit.
- Design, write and produce print-ready artwork for the advert.
- Send the advert artwork to the newspapers or magazines you are using.
- Analyse results.
Now let us examine these in turn.
Choosing the media to place the advert in. Follow the guidelines for loose inserts above. It is tempting to follow the logic that since the big charities use press advertising, it must work as they know what they are doing. Many of the adverts you see in the press are using unsold space and are either free or sold at what are called ‘distress’ rates. In fact it is possible to have standing artwork ready for the paper to inert when they fail to sell all the advertising space they have available. Collect the papers and magazines you plan to use and monitor charity advertising in them. If a wide range of causes advertise, then this is a good sign. If only horse rescue societies, blindness causes and disaster emergency relief agencies appear, then treat with caution. These latter three seem to be the only types of charity to make press advertising work on a regular basis across a wide range of media.
Designing and writing. Follow the guidance for loose inserts above. Don’t forget to put the proposition and price prominently.
Analysing results. Follow the guidance for cold mailings. The same guidance about predicting results applies as given for ‘loose inserts’.
Developing a strategy
The first step towards a successful email and internet fundraising programme is to develop a strategy: identifying your objectives, creating measurable targets, identifying the key stages of implementation, setting down a time line, having a method for monitoring progress and reporting results.
Are your key objectives awareness building, dissemination of the information you hold, to raise money, to develop a new and younger supporter base? Or maybe you want to supplement your existing print communications effort with faster, more targeted updates and alerts to key parts of your supporter base. Whatever your aims are, it pays to write them down.
Even if it is difficult to pick some targets when you have no track record to use as a base, it is worthwhile to get some goals: an email database of 3000 by the end of the first 12 months? To have sent out 4 email newsletters? To have received 1000 requests for downloads?
Key stages of implementation
These include: internal consultation with all relevant departments; agree objectives; create information resources (e.g. downloadable leaflets and factsheets, surveys etc), integrate online and offline databases, agree design of emails and any changes to website, segment email database, carry out first test campaign, review results, roll – out.
Setting down a timeline and mail schedules
It will pay dividends to set down a clear set of time deadlines for all implementation stages and to create detailed mailing schedules that integrate with existing direct mail schedules.
You should to report on achievement of objectives as well as performance campaigns.
Segmenting the database
A key advantage of the low cost of sending emails is the ability to send tailor – made messages to quite small segments of the database. This means having the means of flagging the database in a whole variety of ways to cater for the differing interests whom supporters have let you know about – as well as, of course, the usual range of transactional information you would normally keep. An important aspect of segmentation is to help drive the frequency of contacts with supporters. Since contacts will not (or might not frequently) seek donations, there is no reason not to contact people fairly frequently if you have good reason. The key rule here is to be guided by the relevancy of the news or updates to the supporter. In the lead up to a major event, for example, contact with volunteers who have agreed to help will obviously be quite frequent. It would also be in order, for example, to send updates on a weekly or fortnightly basis following an emergency appeal, especially to people who have ticked a box saying “keep me right up to date”.
How to create emails that are sure to be read
Just as with direct mail, there are rules for creating emails that have a high chance of being read. And, of course, unless they are read they won’t be acted on. The key components are:
- An interest subject line
- Address the reader by name sender’s ID that the reader recognises
- A strong opening sentence and paragraph
- Short sentences and a punchy style that feels easy and quick to read
- HTML rather than text for ease of layout and visual appeal, with the facility to send text emails to people whose computers can’t read HTML.
In layout terms, it pays to have all the most attractive points in the top half of the first page, as the lower part will be out of sight when the reader first opens the email.
Testing in preparation for launch
Before launching your first campaign, it will pay to do a test run both internally to colleagues and then externally to a sample of the database.
The object here is to make sure the whole system works, including all links and that embarrassing mistakes are avoided. It is surprisingly easy to overlook misspellings, especially in headlines and people’s names. It is also worth testing how your email looks when delivered via several different ISPs, such as AOL, Yahoo, Outlook etc.
An external test to a sample of the database will help evaluate likely response rates, or even to test the relative effectiveness of several candidate subject lines, headlines etc. This is particularly helpful if the campaign is likely to generate responses such as requests for information packs which need sending out. The test can gauge resources needed.
8. Measuring results
Even though email marketing is a relatively new phenomenon, a healthy body of jargon has already accumulated around it, especially in the area of performance parameters.
Here are the main performance indicators now in use for measuring results:
- Open rate. This is the percentage of recipients who open your message – usually a good indicator of the effectiveness of the subject line
- Click through rate. This measures the percentage of recipients who take action on your email by clicking on the links offered. This gives an indicator of the effectiveness of the copy, interest in the subject matter and the ‘pull’ of the signer.
- Response rate. The percentage of people who took the action you wanted.
- Abandonment rate. This measures the rate of ‘drop off’ at any stage in the process, e.g. the number who opened but did not click though on any of the links.
- Unsubscribe rate. The number or percentage of recipients who opt out or unsubscribe. High or increasing rates of unsubscribes are usually an indication that recipients feel they are getting too many emails. A way forward in this situation may be to carry out a survey of reader attitudes.
- Forward me. This measures the rate at which recipients forward emails to friends and others – particularly relevant to viral marketing campaigns.
- Bounce rate. This measures hard and soft bounces. Obviously, a high rate suggests that database cleaning routines are not working.
Started at 33,000 ft on Saturday 2nd May 2009 aboard Singapore Airlines Flight SQ 317 from London to Singapore.
This book is for all those trustees who have worried: “where is all the money going to come from”. It is for all those Chief Executives who have said to themselves: “How am I going to meet those budgets”. It is for all those fundraisers who have come into a job wanting to change the world and finding that the world of fundraising is rapidly changing them. And it is for all those incredible volunteers who want to give freely of their time and their talents and want to know how to do this to greatest effect.
This book is not a lecture sandwiched between two covers. As the title implies, it aims to provide a road map which fundraisers can follow; a blueprint which fundraisers can apply. Most of all, I hope it becomes a workbook that is put to daily use in helping hard pressed trustees, Chief Executives, fundraisers and volunteers to raise the money needed to keep their charity alive and going in the right direction.
What qualifications do I have for compiling a book with such ambitions? Too few, I am sure. Yet, in 23 years of involvement I have had the privilege of talking and fundraising in the UK, mainland Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia and South Africa. So what I lack in depth, I hope is compensated for in breadth. Though I myself find it hard to believe, I have also participated in over 2000 fundraising campaigns, most of them admittedly by direct mail. That said, this involvement has allowed me to amass a collection of over 1000 fundraising appeal letters which I have written myself.
I hope readers will find all sections valuable, of course; but most of all I hope the ‘Fundraising Assistant’ section becomes your permanent friend and ally. I believe it is the first time that any fundraising book has provided templates which fundraisers can learn from, adapt to their own situation, or use verbatim. Please feel free to use them as often as you want. All, certainly most of them have been used in the campaigns mentioned above, and to good effect.
As a confirmed direct marketer, I am also proud to say that I have strayed from the true path and into the realms of corporate and trust fundraising, into the mysteries of major gifts fundraising and the even darker arts of bequest and in memoriam giving. This range of work has allowed me to become involved in capital campaigns as well as annual revenue programmes.
I am more than well aware that this background hardly qualifies me to offer a book of this nature. That’s why I am also delighted that so many people from the fundraising fraternity whom I have known all these years have agreed to make their contribution to creating this blueprint.
However, for all its faults and omissions, of which I am sure there are many, I remain solely responsible.
Yesterday, September 26, marked the one-year anniversary of this blog. I realize that’s not important to you, so I hope you find something interesting in these first-year facts:
There have been 253 posts in the last year.
The very first post: When will the future start?.
The most-read post: 5 ways to know if a fundraising consultant is lying
The top five nations for readers of this blog:
- United States
- United Kingdom
The top referring site (other than search engines) is philanthropy.com (that’s The Chronicle of Philanthropy and its blogs).
Fun facts about search terms people use to find this blog:
- By far, the most-often-searched term is “future fundraising now.”
- This exact phrase — “goal directed action people grasping objects people moving around” — has sent 94 people to this blog. Go figure.
Other odd search terms used recently:
- “future fundraising now” = ugly
- an old cleshay
- do you have to know how to type in 6th grade
- how to catch a wild dog
- odd shaped buildings in seattle
- psychology people who underline everything they read
- stupidity makes people cute
- symbolic photo of absurdism
- what ever happened to jeff brooks
- what you do in 6th grade
- why don’t i have empathy
Want more background? Read the about page.