E-Mail Energizes Nonprofit Efforts

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Members, friends, volunteers and donors are the lifeblood of nonprofits and associations. Regular contact with them is vital, especially for supporting fundraising initiatives and for promoting events.

But member communications via traditional methods can be costly and time consuming for nonprofits of all sizes, particularly for smaller groups with limited budgets and staffing resources. As a result, many nonprofits and associations are turning to e-mail newsletters and announcements.

E-mail marketing has virtually no production, materials or postage expenses, unlike direct mail. It can cost as little as fractions of a penny per e-mail. The following examples illustrate e-mail marketing's benefits for nonprofit communications:

After-school program boosts fundraising. America Scores is the only after-school program to use soccer to inspire the academic, physical and social well-being of thousands of inner-city children nationwide. With a small budget, America Scores needed a cost-effective way to communicate with its 13 affiliate programs nationally, maintain communications with core constituencies and recruit new supporters.

Between January and May 2006, America Scores initiated its first national e-mail marketing campaign, which raised $20,000 and added valuable individual donors to the supporter database. America Scores reached a greater audience, nationally and locally, without pulling valuable dollars from programming efforts.

America Scores sends online newsletters bimonthly to 10,000 supporters. These newsletters help the group raise online visibility, publicize events, engage an online community of supporters, solicit donations, acknowledge supporters and promote marketing initiatives.

Film society's campaign boosts membership 50 percent. The Sarasota Film Society turned to e-mail to replace its monthly print newsletter. A constantly changing film schedule meant monthly newsletters often were out of date by the time they were printed and mailed.

Using an e-mail marketing service, the society sends up-to-date information to subscribers with a weekly online newsletter that is more cost-effective than the traditional print newsletter. Along with the weekly online newsletter, the society also uses e-mail for event announcements and renewal reminders. Within a year of implementing an e-mail marketing program, the film society increased membership from 4,000 to 6,000.

E-mail marketing is essential. Along with improving fundraising and driving membership, other benefits of e-mail marketing include instant response and the ability to measure the success of campaigns. Immediately after a nonprofit sends a newsletter, its members can respond or donate. Most e-mail marketing solutions offer a tracking and measurement tool to let organizations measure campaign effectiveness. Many nonprofits have limited time and resources, making it crucial to measure campaign results and modify future campaigns for greater success. n

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