An effective fundraising strategy always requires ongoing and consistent communication to the donors. However, in our dynamic culture, unfolding news events capture the public interest and simultaneously potentially create funding opportunities. The question is, if a relevant news story broke tomorrow morning, would you be able to respond? If you can do it in a week, you can accomplish a lot. If you can do it in a day, preferably in the morning, you can change the game.
Just recently we read some headlines that were relevant to one of our clients. We did 15 minutes of research and felt that the breaking news events were significant enough to warrant a special email appeal. But it was time sensitive, “tomorrow” would be too late. So we drafted an email appeal, proofed it, dropped it into our pre-configured urgent email template, and sent it out to the audience before noon.
After noon there was another breaking development. We added it at the beginning of the email appeal from earlier in the day and issued a resend that evening as a breaking news update. The next day there was another breaking event which caused us to modify our regular weekly email and prompted yet another urgent email. Once all the dust cleared, we saw more donations that week resulting from those efforts than two average months of regular weekly email appeals.
If we would have waited a week, the news cycle would have changed, and the messages would not have been nearly as relevant. But because we had the systems and procedure in place to respond within hours, we saw amazing results. There is something powerful about an email that starts off talking about an urgent event that happened today, or last night. It becomes more than an appeal, it becomes news and the reader has the opportunity to become part of the breaking story.
To gear up for rapid response email fundraising, you need to take the following steps:
- Create a system to feed you news updates relevant to your organization
- Incentivize someone to flag and present items that might warrant special action
- Designate someone in the building who can write fast and effectively to drop everything to draft a short message
- Have one person authorized to review the copy the minute it is done and approve it. No more than one and minimize the editing and revision process.
- Have one or more email templates ready that can be used for a broad number of events
- Do not be too fancy, don’t spend hours trying to find the right image when you can send it with no image, it is better to be good and on-time than late and great.
- Proof everything, even when it’s urgent
- Never cry wolf. If you only send urgent emails that are truly urgent, your audience will respect them. If you do it too often, people will get weary.
Once you have a plan and a protocol in place, it needs to stay top of mind. People need to know this could be part of any given morning and they need to be ready and happy to move fast, instantly when needed. The good news is, if you do this right, it should not require a lot of time from any one person. Aim for a two hour turn around — start to finish. You should be able to read a news story at 9:00am and have an email sent to your list by 11:00am.
Need help supercharging your digital fundraising? Let’s talk!
Contact our Vice President of Client Services Darrell Law at Darrell@infinityconcepts.com, or at 724.733.1200 x26.