How email marketing can help turn new donors into long-term stakeholders

 
 
Every new donor you earn is a victory, but it's only the beginning of the battle! Now that you've earned a new donor, you need to keep them, and one of the best ways of turning a fresh donor into a valued long-term donor is through email marketing. Don't let the name throw you off, email marketing doesn't need to be cynical or obnoxious. When done right, it can be a great way to keep your donors engaged, connected, and in the loop.

Email marketing should be looked as a relationship building tool, one of many that your organization should be employing. You'll still need other forms of contact and outreach, but email marketing is a fast, easy, and inexpensive way to keep in touch with your donors from the very first minute.

Saying hello

A welcome email just after a donor makes their first contribution is absolutely essential. You want them to know how much you appreciate not just their gift, but their interest and involvement. Those are the qualities you want to celebrate in your donors and help cultivate, so be sure to make your welcome email friendly, personal, and enthusiastic. Great welcome emails don't just thank the donor, they inspire them with information about how their donation will help your organization pursue its mission and further its goals.

Automation is what makes email marketing so powerful. Being able to have emails ready to go and automatically disseminated to donors at certain times is wonderful, but you need to make sure they are still genuine. An insincere expression of gratitude is worse than no gratitude at all, and if the first interaction your new donor has with your organization after their initial gift reeks of platitudes and phoniness, they won't be a donor for long. That's why it's important to find the right tone for your welcome email - grateful and informative, but also conversational and sincere.

Either your welcome email or a follow-up shortly after it should include their donation receipt. It's important to get this into the hands of your new donors as soon as possible. They'll need it for income tax purposes, and a quick turnaround demonstrates both professionalism and thoughtfulness on your organization's part. Don't make your new donors wait until the end of the fiscal quarter or some arbitrary schedule to get their receipt info.

Introduce your donors to what else they can do

Your donors are never going to feel as passionate and motivated about your mission as they do after their first donation. For a donor to take the leap and commit their own funds to your mission means you must have made a connection and spoke to them. Don't let that energy go to waste! Show them ways they can get more involved!

A follow-up campaign a few days to a week after your welcome email is the perfect way to get your new donors engaged. Provide info on different programs your nonprofit is involved in, any upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, or recent successes. Engaged donors are recurring donors, and the seeds you plant today could grow your relationship with that donor for years to come.

Keep the news coming

After the initial excitement of the welcome email and on-boarding campaign is finished, you still want to keep your donors in the loop. Develop an ongoing e-newsletter you can send out to donors on a regular basis. These can include updates on what your organization is doing, news, articles, success stories, and updates on donor goals and projects.

Donor newsletters are an important way to demonstrate your organization's value and the impact your donors’ gift is helping to make. They help keep your organization and mission in your donor's thoughts and reinforce the need for their continued support.

Some organizations like to structure these ass monthly updates, others bi-monthly or seasonally. Find what works best for you. Be realistic about your ability to produce meaningful content and the pace of your organization. It's better to send out four exciting and informative newsletters a year than 12 thin ones.

Advanced email marketing

So far, these are just the basics of email marketing. While they can make a big difference, there is even more you can do.  Email marketing is a powerful tool that can scale with your organization's needs and abilities.

"Personalized emails” can mean so much more than just a name and a custom line or two. With the right software, targeted emails can be directed by specifically identifying a particular donors interests so you can send them content that resonates with what is most important to them. You can also use key metrics such as open-rates, link clicks, and so on to determine how effective your messaging techniques are so you can refine them and focus in on the things that your donors care about the most.

"Email marketing” may sound vaguely cynical from the perspective of a nonprofit, but it is anything but. Email marketing can be one of your greatest tools for developing relationships with your donors and guiding them from a one-time donor to a long-term, engaged, stakeholder.

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