Our Client Services Coordinators often recommend email blasts as part of our clients’ fundraising toolkits. Email blasts are an easy and affordable option for keeping supporters informed and engaged, whether your goal is to provide a friendly reminder about upcoming fundraisers, special opportunities to give, or the impact of donations.
Based on her successful email blasts in honor of client Kevin Kroushinsky, we asked volunteer and supporter Jennifer Evans to give us a few insights into the wonderful world of email outreach.
How did you become involved in Kevin’s fundraising campaign?
Kevin and I met 16 years ago as next-door neighbors. Our apartments were the only two on the second floor—two steps apart. We enjoyed an open-door policy and knew where each other’s hide-a-keys were hidden! We became family, and we have maintained a close friendship throughout the years.
When Kevin sustained his [spinal cord] injury, my husband and I thought, “What can we do to help?” I have never been a fan of donating money to organizations I don’t have a personal connection to. Donating to Help Hope Live and being part of Kevin’s recovery is the single most rewarding thing I do every month.
What made you decide to create an ongoing email blast for Kevin’s campaign?
I’m an author who writes memoir, romance, and suspense novels. As an independent author, I’m personally tasked with getting the word out to my fans. In today’s world of social media, one of the ways to “own” your corner of the Internet is through an email list. When I delved into the world of email marketing, I was excited to discover that there was a lot to learn.
Once I achieved success with my author email campaigns, I thought, “Why not set up an email list to help Kevin ask for donations?”
Another thing that influenced me was this: my cousin’s husband was diagnosed with a catastrophic illness and contacted Help Hope Live to utilize their incredible fundraising advantages. I gladly donated, but didn’t receive follow-up from my cousin. The experience made me think, “Wouldn’t it be great if my cousin sent out a friendly reminder to donate? I would gladly do so.“
Thus, Kevin’s email blast was born.
Do you feel like email blasts are a strong way to put your talents to good use to help Kevin?
Absolutely! I spent a fair amount of time learning the workings of my email service provider, and I love writing with the goal of hopefully making people smile. I spent many years as a business-suit-wearing corporate sales executive, and I learned the power of gently guiding a customer to say “yes.” These are the skills I put to use to help Kevin.
Do you have to be a marketing genius to create an effective email blast?
If you know how to write a letter, you can write a personal email blast. Anyone can learn the basics.
What are some of the biggest benefits of email blasts?
They are inexpensive, easy to use, fun to write, and they provide a consistent method for staying in touch with all of the people who care about your fundraising efforts.
Keeping people interested in Kevin’s daily life makes everyone feel as though they are part of something important. We all need a reminder from time to time that our efforts and our donations are helping real people.
What are some of the numbers you track to gauge your success?
I track open rates [percentage of recipients who opened the email] and click rates [percentage of recipients who clicked on at least one link in the email]. Kevin’s email blasts boast an open rate of 57% (industry average for nonprofit emails is 24.11%) and a 4.8% click rate (industry standard is 2.47%).
Jennifer’s Quick Guide to Email Blast Success
1) Some of the content can stay the same
“I always include a ‘call to action’ at the end of every email, including links to donate to Help Hope Live in honor of Kevin,” said Jennifer. You may also want to include social media links and a way for people to easily share an email with their friends.
Try to keep a consistent voice across your emails. Jennifer found a voice that worked well for her when she realized “my favorite email blasts have a personal, chatty touch.”
2)…but some of it should change.
“In each email blast, I change the photos and personal information I share relative to what’s new in Kevin’s life,” said Jennifer.
3) Ask a question
You can help inspire readers to do more than just read by asking a question in each of your email blasts to encourage replies. “I always include a question at the end,” explained Jennifer, “which is my way of encouraging subscribers to communicate with us. I’m thrilled to report that I frequently receive good wishes, personal feedback, and requests to join Kevin and the gang for dinner!”
4)…and follow up!
As Jennifer reminded us, “it’s the personal touch that makes our email blasts so successful. I always respond personally to every email.” Don’t let kind replies go unanswered.
Bonus #hopetip: Here's how you can get started quickly!
Not sure how to get a list of “subscribers” to kick off your first email blast? Start with your list of Help Hope Live Campaign Contributors!
Find your list of Campaign Contributors on your Dashboard under My Supporters. Download the list right from our site and add the emails to your personal email account (remember to BCC all recipients) or use your favorite email marketing platform to upload your list and track your success.
If you do plan to use a marketing platform like Mailchimp to craft your eblasts, talk to your Coordinator about options for reimbursement—the cost may be considered a fundraising expense that falls within our Fund Disbursement Guidelines.
Learn from the best! You can subscribe to Jennifer’s emails in honor of Kevin here.