Non-profit and membership organizations face challenges that are not always known in the business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) world. Primary among these challenges are limited financial resources and limited staffing resources. Add to that the sense of ownership among the organizations membership and/or donors, and the feeling of overwhelm can be incredible.
One of the easiest ways for an organization to communicate with the members/donors is through email. This can take many shapes including announcements, event promotion, surveys and feedback, calendars, and of course, newsletters. Let’s take a look at best practices for each of these digital communications.
Announcements are a great way to introduce your new Executive Director, Board of Directors, or even spotlight a dependable volunteer! All it takes is a short bio, a high-quality photo, a subject line, and voilá, you’re done. Short and sweet, announcements are generally limited to a single subject, and the recipient is kept in the loop of what’s happening with the organization.
Event Promotion. Generally speaking, non-profits hold fund-raising events throughout the year. Using a product such as EventSpot from Constant Contact makes event planning even easier by collecting many types of data including:
- Detailed attendee data, that is completely customizable
- Printing of name badges for attendees that is formatted to several Avery© template options
- Collecting payments for tickets or extra items available for purchase
- Create and schedule customized emails prior to and post event
- Even solicit items for the event, such as silent auction items, etc
Surveys and Feedback are invaluable tools for any business or organization. They provide insight and can offer market research, when utilized with careful thought. Many non-profits communicate with their subscribers to gather a variety of information, for example:
- Pre-event suggestions (would you prefer a DJ or a live band at the gala? Assigned seating or open table seating? Limited plated dinner options or buffet-style dinner?)
- Post-event feedback (on a scale of 1 – 5, rate the quality of the acoustics at the gala; what, if anything, would you suggest for additions to the silent auction for next years gala?) TIP: keep surveys to a maximum of 6 – 8 questions, and include an option for respondents to add their own additional comments
Calendars. Most likely, your organization has multiple events and activities taking place, including standing committee meetings, planning meetings, business mixers, and such. While this information will be posted on your website, sending a weekly or bi-weekly calendar update, with minimal information that is easy to read, is always a good reminder for your subscribers. TIP: include a link to your website event calendar for readers to get all the details.
Newsletters are probably the most commonly-used e-communications in member organizations, non-profits, churches, PTA, etc. And for good reason: there is a LOT of information that the subscribers need to know. This is a great place to offer overviews of upcoming events, the calendar, and announcements. And, data suggests that organizations such as these can actually send more detailed email newsletters than typical B2B or B2C marketing emails due to the sense of ownership among the members/donors. Parents want and need to know what’s happening at their child’s school, parishioners desire to know what’s happening in addition to what was printed in last Sunday’s bulletin, chamber members want to know the newest members to join, and so on. There are several studies that suggest using an unusual, catchy subject line will result in a higher open rate; however, use what works best for YOUR subscriber preferences. Not sure what they want to see in the subject line? Ask them! TIP: include links to your website for readers to get the details on the information that is most pertinent to them, and keep the digital format easier to read.
For details on the most recent data regarding email campaigns for nonprofits and other member organizations, check out this blog from the experts at Constant Contact.