Use e-mail to maintain consistent and two-way communication with donors

E-mail marketing is a great way to stay in contact with donors. You may send them updates on cause-related events, send a newsletter, and even advise them of an upcoming mailing. The key is to be interactive and get their attention. Show them you care. Show them you understand them and how they can be of assistance to you and your cause. Whatever you are doing, be sure to ask them for a donation.

To gather e-mail addresses, simply ask your donors for them. Ask them in your direct mail piece; ask them on your Web site; ask on Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks. Append e-mail names to your postal address (there is a surprisingly high match rate if done correctly). Whichever method you use, be sure to ask permission to e-mail them.

Your own house file e-mail names will be a lot more responsive than rented e-mail names. Your house file, naturally, has a built in audience, already interested and invested in your cause. Although the selection is limited and they are not as responsive as your house file, renting e-mail lists is still a viable tool to help grow your database of e-mails. Those that do respond to your offer become part of your growing house file.

Once you have established your strategy, get those names into circulation. Blast them. Keep in touch with your donors and keep them interested and informed. Keep them vested in your cause and they will invest in your organization.

Be sure you get the address most used by your donor. If you can’t reach them, they can’t reach you. There are many service providers that can help scrub your list and keep it mail-able.

E-mail marketing will never replace traditional direct mail, nor will it be replaced by social networking. Instead, it is becoming a more integral part of cultivating your donor through several channels. It is vital to donor retention and viable for donor acquisition.

This article originally ran as part of the November 9, 2009 Technique, “Best advice for building nonprofit e-mail lists.” To read the entire feature, click here.

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