Best Practices to Increase Fundraising Response Rates

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1 Best Practices to Increase Fundraising Response Rates programs so they re performing at the highest levels possible. Your campaigns may need just a few tweaks here and there. Or they may require a major overhaul to lift response rates. marketing continues to be an important part of the fundraising mix. But if you don t follow proven practices, your campaigns will fall short of your goals. In many cases, developing a disciplined fundraising program will boost response rates by double-digit percentages. Through years of experience with countless fundraising campaigns, IPM Advancement has learned what does and what doesn t work. We know how to leverage so it produces the greatest results. Based on current industry research and trends, coupled with our experience with our clients, we ve compiled several recommendations. Consider these tips after you ve developed your list (we aren t going to talk about list management in this document, since it s a huge topic worthy of its own white paper). Be Direct in the Subject Line Say what you want the recipient to do in your subject line using fewer than 50 characters. If you want your subscribers to donate to hungry children, then say that right in the s subject line. Otherwise, you could risk alienating your subscribers with a bait-and-switch tactic.

2 If the purpose of your is to raise money, then don t pretend it s not by putting something else in your subject line. Your subscribers may think you tricked them. Don t be afraid to ask for a donation front-and-center. Studies show that open rates may be lower, but donor response rates will trend higher. In other words, you ll make more money with a straightforward and direct appeal in the subject line. If you re not sure which subject line will perform the best, use A/B testing to see what resonates with subscribers. Continue testing until you have a winner. Design an Engaging Layout Your should look appealing and draw readers into the main message. Some important things to keep in mind: Images Don t obscure your message with excessive images. Your should reinforce your organization s brand and communicate it consistently, and too many images may sometimes be counterproductive. Unless your images have text overlays, avoid images in the top half of your content area. This part of your will be seen in the preview pane of most clients. By placing compelling text first, you generate interest even before the recipient opens the . (One exception to this rule is when the image is purposely designed to be the primary focus of the message or call-to-action.) Typeface Don t clutter your design with multiple fonts. Limit your to no more than two typefaces and make sure you use standard web fonts such as Futura, Verdana, and/or Arial. Otherwise, you risk font substitutions with characters that may render your unreadable. Font Size Make sure you keep the mobile reader in mind when developing campaigns. With smartphones and tablets becoming the main form A good rule of thumb is to make your headings 22 pixels and body copy 14 pixels (Apple devices will adjust body copy to 13 pixels).

3 Mobile and Tablet Compatibility Speaking of mobile users, check to make sure your templates are compatible with smartphones and tablets using ios and Android. A good platform will provide a comprehensive solution to review s so they translate well on different devices. Video Multimedia content can have terrific impact. But embedded videos may a static image with a link to watch the video on a separate landing page. Footers Don t skip over the s footer. You need to include any required and important information. For example, you should include legal information, privacy policies, a "forward to a friend" link, links to popular pages including your social media and partner pages, and more. Keep Your Copy Short and Simple Having just a few paragraphs means you need to keep focused on what s really important. A suggested layout: The Header usually your logo or banner First Paragraph what problem your organization needs to overcome First Ask a link to make a donation Second Paragraph what your organization does on behalf of the cause Third Paragraph where the money will go, along with a brief testimonial Second Ask a link or button to make a donation Closing P.S. Footer navigational links

4 Remember to keep your messaging relevant and engaging. Your campaign goals are to elevate response rates, avoid unsubscribes, and eliminate those dreaded spam reports. To accomplish these goals, develop your content so it s focused, personalized, and compelling. Develop Pithy Call-to-Actions To get the best results, you should separate your links and keep them simple. For donation button. These text links typically generate more clickthroughs and donations. Examples of good call-to-action links might be Please make an online donation today, or Please help today. In addition, we recommend you avoid using too many call-to-actions (CTAs) on one page. CTAs are meant to be prominent and direct requests for one or two (at the most) desired actions. If you include too many CTAs, you risk having nothing stand out. Therefore, you should use no more than two CTAs to produce the best results. Include one primary and one secondary CTA per communication. If you keep your message clear and use a consistent voice, you ll help ensure subscribers remain and clearly labeled link. Your second CTA can be a softer link, or maybe even a button. Determine the Best Schedule In terms of timing, you should send your s at a time when subscribers are most likely to read them. But when is that? Depending upon the message, our overall experience suggests Thursdays generally get the highest open rates.

5 However, that s also when people receive the most s. We recommend you send most messages sometime between noon Tuesday and noon Friday (ET). Of course, urgent and time-sensitive alerts are the exception. Simplify Your Landing Page An is only as good as the landing page it directs users to. When developing your landing page, make sure it s not cluttered. It should be simple and straightforward, just like your . Once a subscriber opens your and clicks through to the landing page, you ve overcome two big hurdles. They ve shown interest in donating to your cause, so don t mess it up by over-selling. Make sure you carry over the look and feel of your on the landing page. And to keep it simple, place the donation form prominently on the page. At this point, you don t need a lot of extra copy. A simple thank you for helping to solve the problem will Develop a Strategy for Follow-Up s As with other forms of contact, it s important to focus on developing relationships with your donors. After all, they are the lifeblood of your organization. Your follow-up s should show how much you appreciate their support and the difference they are making to your cause. By doing so, you re taking steps to build long-term relationships and more consistent donations. When fostering engagement, your communications should not always be about asking for money. Sending simple thank you s regularly can make a difference. And don t think an auto-responder in your platform will do the trick; it won't. Think of the auto-response message as a receipt for the subscriber s donation. Be sure to properly thank your donors with a separate personalized message and keep reminding them how much you appreciate them as time goes on.

6 Say Thank You in the subject of your and you ll likely increase your open rates. One study found these thank you subject lines generated a consistent 70% open rate. Another important tactic for follow-up s is using a different subject line for those days of the distribution. After this period, you should consider sending a follow-up You can also send follow-up s to subscribers who opened your , but didn t donate. You can change things up a bit with the follow-up s by using new layouts, content, length of copy, and other elements. Segment Your List to Determine Frequency How often should you send s to your subscribers? Although the frequency debate continues, you can avoid over-saturating your subscribers by analyzing your list and levels. To segment your list, you should follow a few basic steps: First, identify the most active addresses on your list. Second, segment your active s into donors and activists. You can set parameters for what constitutes activity. For example, you might want to include donors who have made a donation in the past 24 months, or activists who have participated in more than two activities. Then, test different frequencies over the next couple of months. You might want to try sending two s a week and one bimonthly, with the more frequent s being sent to your more active subscribers. Monitor your clickthrough and unsubscribe rates and tweak your campaigns based on the test results.

7 For more information on determining frequency, download our white paper titled 6 Key Things to Consider before Launching your Fundraising Campaign. This white paper talks about: How to determine the appropriate frequency of s How to create campaigns targeted to your audience How to integrate your campaign with direct mail or telemarketing campaigns How to compose s that capture and engage the people you want to reach organization How to use and donation tools to draft, deliver, and track your response rates Because it s such a powerful way to communicate with donors, fundraising should personalized, and provides rapid results. Understanding how to leverage the strengths of will have a tremendous impact on your organization s overall response rates.

8 About IPM Advancement IPM Advancement (IPM) works with nonprofits to build strong annual giving, membership and advocacy programs that engage audiences and compel donors to take action. We deliver nonprofit fundraising solutions that help clients reach their annual goals via intelligent strategies that integrate direct mail, phone, web and social media, and traditional media outreach. As a full-service nonprofit fundraising agency, we provide all aspects program management combining the creative services of a design agency, the production capabilities of a mailhouse, and the subject matter expertise of an experienced fundraising consulting agency. Learn more at or call toll-free IPM.ADV.

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