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2 comments - Last on 10/12/2009

2009 Annual Appeal Readiness: Email or Direct Mail?

Two short years ago, one of my NYU students inquired whether it was considered good practice to send an Annual Appeal by e-mail.  At the time, I replied, "Absolutely not."  The Annual Appeal letter, like the official thank you note, was sacrosanct - it should be formal, official and worthy of first class postage.  Fast forward to Fall 2009 and boy, have I changed my tune.  Forty four-cent stamps;  lean nonprofit budgets; increases in demand for our services; and first-rate, economical email service providers such as Constant Contact  make email appeals the method of choice for many organizations.

In fact, if you are one of the organizations lucky enough to have valid email addresses for most of your constituents, you will be able to analyze the impact of your E-appeal in ways that will revolutionize your future planning and goal setting.  Be sure to use an email service provider that offers analytics including:  who opened the email; how much time did they spend reading the email; who went back to it more than once; which addresses are invalid; and more.  

Of course, you must have seamless online giving on your website to which your donors can quickly click and donate.  Overall, online giving is still in its childhood stages and represents a small piece of the pie.  However, those charities that make the process of giving online easy and efficient and successfully drive their donors to the site (just a click away with an an email appeal) do quite well.  Their donations are typically higher than mail-in donations.  And, those who make their websites dynamic, newsy and interesting attract return viewers and additional donations.

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Great advice. I'm wondering how much you think that the email and direct mail should mirror each other. Will it be redundant or will it reinforce the message even more?


Some thoughts about the last comment: I think direct mail gives us enough space for the whole story we need to tell. Although the messages (direct mail/email) cannot be too different from each other since they share the same title and purpose, at least in this case, I just think it is important to make the email message shorter and more attention-grabbing than the direct mail message but at the same time, enable our readers to have a better (quick and convenient) access to all our stories and resources. 


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