3 email strategies that work best with donor management software

Many organizations haven't developed an email strategy, which donor management software can support.
Date Published
03/06/2014

Donor outreach strategies should be diverse and dynamic, responding to the individuals’ preferences and needs. However, there are proven ways to integrate email as part of a fundraising campaign that will help increase donor participation and solidify revenue streams. Donor management software is one resource that can work seamlessly with email fundraising messages. Nonprofits that recognize the benefit of aligning donor information with outreach efforts will be in a better position to increase their return on investment in support of marketing initiatives.

What’s the plan?

The truth is many organizations haven’t developed a solid email strategy to connect with donors. The online marketing resource Smart Insights recently partnered with PlanToEngage to survey more than 600 email marketing professionals and found that nearly 4 in 10 participants in the study don’t have an email strategy in place. How can a nonprofit organization identify shortfalls in its email marketing if it hasn’t developed a plan? This makes it incredibly difficult to measure how effective various tactics are and how to improve to address donors’ needs.

3 simple strategies
Creating a plan for email marketing and fundraising campaigns doesn’t have to be a groundbreaking process. Recent research from Retention Science cited by MarketingProfs indicated there are a few steps organizations can take to improve open rates and the overall effectiveness of electronic messages.

  • Personalization
    Looking at more than 260 million emails, Retention Science found subject lines that contain the recipient’s name were opened with greater frequency, at 18.3 percent, compared with those that did not. This underscores the importance of maintaining accurate and updated contact information for all donors when appealing for donations. It’s not only embarrassing for a nonprofit to misspell a contributor’s name but also potentially damaging to the relationship the organization has worked hard to develop.
  • Pop culture references
    While maintaining relevance, it’s also a good idea to refer to movies or songs in subject lines. Those that incorporated these references saw an open rate of 26 percent, while those that didn’t were opened roughly 16 percent of the time. This doesn’t mean that every email should have a subject line that begins with a famous line from a marketer’s favorite movie. But when a memorable quote fits perfectly with a particular mission-driven project or fundraiser, it can prove effective to get a greater number of readers looking at the content of the email.
  • Keep it brief
    Although 52 percent of emails studied in the Retention Science report had subject lines with between 11 – 15 words, those with 6 -10 words had the highest open rate, at 21 percent. This data should be a signal to nonprofit marketers to keep the subject line concise and focused on the content of the email. Trying to be too clever with extended titles doesn’t always have the impact intended by the sender and recipients are left confused, which is why organizations need to be careful when making pop culture references. Remember, relevance is crucial.

How to effectively integrate donor management software
The benefit of software for nonprofits that collects and organizes donor data is the fact that all contact information – including mail and email addresses, as well as first and last names – is up to date, all communication preferences are listed and giving histories are retained in an easily referenced database. This makes it easier to personalize emails and develop subject lines that will be meaningful to recipients.

What’s more, making sure email subscribers have the choice to opt out is important and another function that donor management software can help keep track of. Like inaccurate contact information, sending out emails to donors that have indicated they don’t want to receive specific communications can harm relationships and signal to contributors the nonprofit doesn’t care about their preferences.

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