Using Email in Fundraising: Top things to consider

email icon


So my last blog looked at why email should be used in fundraising and how it can be a great tool if you use it in partnership with other traditional channels like the telephone.

After a new report by IOF and marketing analysis firm by FastMap has recently claimed that donors prefer to be contacted by email, what better time is there to use this great communications channel to engage and sustain your donors:-

Opt-In Strategy- If you have a high volume of online sign-ups who haven’t opted in for phone communications, develop an email marketing strategy to encourage supporters to opt-in for telecommunications. Personalise the email to them, any particular cause they previously donated to? the channel in which they did it by etc? Also ask them questions, find out what motivates them and tailor future communications accordingly

Retires – Have a high volume of retired data with email addresses? Target them with tailored communications via email and monitor who opens what and where they click. You could also send email communications mid-campaign if you find supporters are not answering the call, an email to explain you’re trying to reach them with your contact number so supporters know when that number calls again, it’s one to pick up

Deeply Lapsed – Have a large data set of people who took part in a charity event a few years back? Re-engage with them via email tailoring your message around that event creating a sense of nostalgia prior to calling, ask them questions via an email survey so supporters feel more connected to the cause

Say Thank You, Now – We all know thanking our donors is key but how quickly we do this could really improve long term relationships, send thank you emails to your database 24 hours after they have provided a gift over the phone. Include share URLS in your email so that supporter can shout about their commitment to the cause to their social following

Follow Ups- This is more of an obvious email communication to adopt but something which shouldn’t be missed. If you have a list of supporters who have recently upgraded/started a Direct Debit with you don’t forget to not only thank them but to also keep them updated on how their donations are being spent. Supporters will love to see the outcome of their hard work and if you personalise and tailor your message, you can increase retention and inspire supporters to do more.



Account Pell & Bales

Supporter Retention: Why Email is your best friend


email lovel

Recently,  Fundraising Online held their annual fundraising conference #FRO16.

The series covered many inspiring topics around fundraising and marketing for nonprofits and took place over two days. One of the webinars I listened to was the informative session (you can register and download it here) on email marketing by @charitychap, Matt Collins. During his talk, Matt urged charities to become more acquainted with email as it is one of the top online communication channels we do not utilise enough.

Now, my background is Online Marketing so no one has a hard time convincing me of the greatness of email.It’s an effective way to reach out to your audience and has the flexibility to ever evolve along with your communication plan.

You can segment to your heart’s content to create tailored content and test, test and test again to make sure everything is performing at its optimum, from subject lines to CTA’s. During his talk Matt highlighted the success Ecommerce retailers have experienced through email and how charities could (and should) follow suit.

Matt also made provided us with some handy recommendations such as concise messaging, personalisation, clear CTA’s and A/B testing -all of which have proven to improve email performance in other sectors.

How to incorporate Email Marketing into your Telemarketing Strategy

Scratch that, we shouldn’t be thinking of ways to incorporate email into telemarketing, we should be working towards one holistic strategy where email and the telephone go hand in hand. Supporters use multiple methods of communication offering up numerous touch points and opportunities for charities to re-engage, provide tailored communication and most importantly, improve retention. This is something to think about when planning any campaign.


Account Director, Pell & Bales 

Making the right call

This blog by Wild Woman Fundraising got me thinking about what goes into the day-to-day decision-making process that fundraisers go through when speaking to supporters.



The telephone (like face to face which Mazarine mentioned in her blog) is also a real-time channel.   So we know first hand how important it is to make the right decisions when asking for support as the response from a supporter is instant and can have a long-lasting effect on a supporters perception of your charity, how much they give and how long they plan to support you.

So what decisions should you make before you make that call:

  • When do I ask? When is the most appropriate time to make a phone call or send a text? Contacting a supporter several times in the same year will probably not go down well, is not best practice and won’t do anything for the reputation of your charity, but contacting them before they do a fundraising event for example may be a pleasant surprise for the supporter, will help drive loyalty and give them a boost to help them raise more money!
  • What do I ask for?  If you’ve asked your supporter to increase their gift to £5 a month and they’ve said no two or more times previously then why make the decision to go back and ask for the same amount again?  Do your research. How has your supporter engaged with your charity in the past? Have they preferred doing an event rather than giving via monthly direct debit for example. Could this help you make an informed decision about how they could help you in the future and therefore what you ask them to do?
  • How do I ask?  Choosing an appropriate channel and delivering your message is really important.   Has your supporter responded better to an SMS ask rather than a telephone call, were they quite responsive and perhaps more interested in a certain aspect of your charity’s work – would it be a better decision to give them an update on this rather than talk about something new?

 All of these things should come into your decision-making process and of course all is underpinned by fundraiser expertise, knowledge and attitude (more on these at a later) which can be driven by engagement and training sessions.


New perspectives on relationship fundraising

Relationship fundraising has continued to be a hot topic and is something we’ve been advocating for some time now.

But now we’re seeing new research and interesting lines of thought, mainly from Craig Linton and Rogare which may change what we originally thought about the whole concept of relationship fundraising, how to use it and when.

Although there’s been some mixed views from both Craig and Rogare; the points raised in findings from Rogare’s –  ‘Relationship Fundraising’ where do we go from here?  and in Craigs follow-up blog  were particularly interesting to read, especially as many of the issues raised we have discussed on our blog previously.   Reading both blogs, my main thoughts are:

  • I agree with Rogare’s point that there is a requirement to apply real critical evaluation of the needs for each audience, engagement and donation type.  A great way to do this is through donor journey mapping.
  • We see trends of donor expectations changing and there is now an even greater focus on supporter care as charities are compared to the corporate sector where customer care has become the one key differentiator between competitors
  • I think we must never lose focus on the beneficiary but giving back to supporters and having a more two-way relationship surely will result in more meaningful long term relationships that are ultimately in the best interest of the beneficiary
  • We know firsthand the challenges of moving to a relationship fundraising model, however we are seeing steps being taken to make that move day-by-day, campaign-by-campaign
  • Craig’s point about trust and satisfaction in every donation is key.  Our donor satisfaction surveys help us understand how supporters feel about the charity in real-time (more on our satisfaction surveys later)
  • We should never think of any fundraising as just ‘transactional’ and the phone is a great way to build and strengthen a relationship with a supporter over time whilst also delivering the objectives of individual campaigns

Craig’s right! It’s all relationship fundraising in the broader sense but there are different layers to what this means in practical terms.

For any of this to work – we need new KPI’s in fundraising that are given the same importance as pledge and value such as life time value, supporter satisfaction, engagement levels, complaints, expressions of dissatisfaction and retention.  These things all need to be monitored on an ongoing basis during campaigns and be built into the campaign forecasting not monitored in isolation.

A positive move to a donor based approach to the business of raising money I think is priceless.



How to map out your donor journey

We’ve been teaming up with Xtraordinary Fundraising lately who delivered a brilliant and very timely session on mapping the donor journey recently.


donor journey

Delivered by Mike Johnston (HJC) and attended by key charities (large and small), world renowned universities and hospitals , the session provided the audience with great case studies from commercial companies like Lidl  and the charity sector; as well as all the tools they needed to map out their donor journey in order to maximise the donor experience and create more personalised relationships with their donors.

You’ll be hearing more details on the donor journey from Mike himself via this blog so stay tuned! In the meantime the storify and slides are available to view now.

If you really can’t wait, then why not get in touch to talk about how you can use the phone to enhance the donor experience  at different stages in their journey then we’d love to chat!  Email with your details and we’ll get back to you


The power of ‘funny’ in charity videos

I love this video by WaterAid and I think it’s such a worthy finalist for The Golden Radiator Awards. 


It’s a great example of how charities can be bold and use humour to get a taboo message across.

As the judges said ‘It’s funny and therefore shareable’.

And what’s more, they’ve used a clever call-to-action to get people to sign a petition at the end. A quick and easy way you can show your support for the charity as soon as you’ve watched the video.



How a simple SMS took my customer experience from good to GREAT!

Just a quick post from me today.

This is perhaps a simple and obvious thing to deliver but a really easy thing to overlook…..


… but for me this personal thank you from one of my regular utility providers really hit the spot.

It was a friendly and informal SMS signed-off by the customer service advisor that I was speaking to – and more to the point, it was sent while  I was on the phone to him – timely!

This simple SMS reinforced that they acknowledge me as a person and that I wasnt just a statistic in a stack of calls he was hoping to get through that evening. And it’s the little touches like these that add-up and make you question whether you want to switch providers at the the end of your contract.