fallleavesOn September 15, 2009, Kivi Leroux Miller will present a Nonprofit911 call for Network for Good called "Your Best Email Campaign Ever: 4 Steps to a Winning Strategy This Fall."

Here is a rough outline of that talk, full of questions you should ask yourself as you create your fall email campaign.

The Goal: Increasing Giving in December

If your goal is take advantage of December giving trends, use the fall months to start working up to your big December ask. How? By inspiring your donors and by reinforcing how important your donors are to your success.

Step 1: Think about Your List

What percentage of records in your database include email addresses?

What can you do now to increase the number of email addresses you have?

How can you segment your list so that you can personalize your messages?

Step 2: Think about the Schedule

How many emails can you reasonably send out in October and November, leading up to an appeal in December? One or two or three per month?

How will this special fall campaign mesh with what you are sending via email now? In addition to or in place of a newsletter, for example?

How will the email campaign mesh with any direct mail you are sending or telephone calls you plan to make?

Are there any bonuses you can offer this fall (e.g. special events, time with the executive director, special downloads, etc.)? Get in the gift giving mode yourself!

Step 3: Think about the Content

If you are saving the appeals for December, what will you be asking for then? Be clear and specific. Make sure that your fall emails build up to and support the ask.

What types of messages will you send this fall? Give some thought to messages that

  • share success
  • thank donors for past support
  • create emotional connections between donors and the people you help
  • position your organization as helpful, friendly, and effective -- in other words, worthy of the trust that comes with a donation
  • If stuck, play off the holiday/seasonal themes (e.g. Halloween, Fall Leaves, Thanksgiving, Cooler Weather, etc.)

What kind of tone will you use (fear, desperation, hope, love, etc.)?

Who's the best messenger? Can a client tell a story in their own words?

Step 4: Think Beyond Hitting Send

What changes can you make to your website to ensure that it reinforces what's in the email?

Do your landing pages match up with your email messages?

Is your donation process as easy as possible?

Does your website answer the question "Why Give to This Group?"

What stats will you review and what will you do with that information?

How will the results of the email campaign affect your print or telephone follow-up?

What does your thank-you follow-up look like?

Do you have a plan to convert first-time donors into monthly givers?

Conclusion

Remember to ask youself, "Why are these people important to us (other than receiving financial support from them) and why are we important to them (other than as place to give money)? Use your email and other communications programs to create a long-term conversation with your supporters.

We'll post a link to the recording/transcript when Network for Good makes it available.