A Monthly Email Marketing Strategy to Generate Donor Dollars (it can be done)

digital marketing donations email marketing fundraising marketing strategy May 29, 2017

Part 2: How To Develop an Editorial Calendar

Now that you’ve created your content outline, it’s time to develop your editorial calendar. The objective here is to make decisions that will frame the process you’ll be following to create consistency in your email marketing and communications plan.

Remember, with monthly email giving on the rise—accounting for 17% of all nonprofit online revenue in 2016 --- THIS is a super important part of funding your mission.

So, get connected to your heart, remembering the difference you’re here to make in this world and let’s go!

5 Simple Steps to Developing an Email Editorial Calendar.

Step 1: Define your Topic

It’s time to narrow down specific areas of focus for each month.

Focus on ONE Topic

We want to make sure your content is as powerful as possible. Communicating one core thought, idea or principle is essential. You can expand on the topic through multiple communications throughout the month using ONE centric theme to create clear, valuable and inspiring content for your readers (and potential donors!)

Step 2: Set the Dates

Give your subscribers the benefit of knowing when to expect to hear from you. We already know that more fundraising email messages to more people results in more donations, but a consistent schedule is what you need to send out those messages in an organized way.

Define the monthly frequency and publishing schedule of your emails. In other words, how often will you be sending out emails each month? Set the dates and times you will be sending emails to your list; the same dates with the same frequency every month. For example, the first and last Wednesday of the month at 10:00 a.m. (Central).

Step 3: Define your messaging points

Creating structure to your emails not only saves time in the development process, it’s a super smart and strategic way to keep your readers informed and engaged.

Here’s great news! Your emails don’t have to be long and detailed. In fact, shorter emails are often better (but not always). Word of caution here as you felt the weight of developing hefty, hearty emails lifted - don’t take shorter emails as a pass to creating ‘blah-blah’ emails that don’t have much meaning. With that approach, you run the risk of losing your audience. They’ll stop opening your emails and eventually ‘opt-out’ all together. When that happens, you’re back at square one with a long road ahead of you to attract, engage and eventually inspire giving from a new donor. Time is money and money supports your mission. Be sure each and every email (big or small) is worthy of your audience’s attention.

And that’s exactly what you’ll do when you take the time to define the messaging points for each of your emails.

As we all know, each audience is different. But, as the leader of your organization I’m sure you know what motivates and inspires your audience the most.

Here’s however a good and solid email messaging outline you can start with.

  • Strong Subject Line
  • Engaging Lead
  • Inspiring Story / Example
  • Clear Benefit
  • Impact – stats or study noted

Step 4: Create a Compelling Close

The overarching goal of every email is to deepen relationships.

Relationships involve connection to people, not organizations. This requires a personal touch.

The stories and information included in your emails help communicate the impact and importance of your mission. However, it’s trust in the leadership of an organization that provides the confidence to give. We all want to know when we give our hard earned money to someone or some cause, it’s going to be used as we intended.

Creating a personal and compelling close to your email messages will help build trust. Here you can communicate with heart and soul, in full transparency about why you do what you do.

Remember, every name on your list is a person not just an email. They each have personal reasons for supporting your organization as volunteers, donors or cheerleaders.

Close out your email messages by letting them know who you are, why you value and appreciate them. You’ll be rewarded with long term support and engagement from those who value and appreciate who YOU are and what you’re doing!

Step 5: ALWAYS include a Call-To-Action (CTA)

This step often creates a bit of resistance from dear kind heart-serving nonprofit leaders. Asking ‘regularly’ for support or engagement begins to feel ‘pushy’. When that feeling begins to surface, it usually results in pulling back on including calls to action in emails, and eventually not asking at all.

Stats and stories begin to be the norm in all communications (because that’s the comfort zone), and fundraising falls flat. Oh No!

Here’s what you need to remember.

#1. You never know what message will resonate with your audience and inspire them to give.

#2. They asked to be a part of your organization in some way, shape or form.

#3. They want to be kept up-to-date and informed. They want to hear from you. If they don’t, they can click a button and opt-out. No harm, no foul.

#4. They know asking for support is how the mission of your organization is funded. It’s not a surprise.

#5. Regular calls-to-action (not always asking for monetary support), trains your audience to respond to your emails in some fashion. Share this with a friend, LIKE us on Facebook, Tell us what you think (survey), Watch this video, Reply to this email, Read More, Sign Up Today, Donate Now. The more direct you are, the better response you’ll get. 

And lastly, don’t assume your audience knows what you want them to do. It’s your job to tell them (kindly, of course) what action you want them to take. This is where the success of email marketing really begins to shine through. Don’t pull back on including a CTA in every email you send.

Now, You’re Ready!

Following these steps, your editorial calendar will be created strategically, efficiently and effectively. 

In the final blog post of this three-part nonprofit email marketing training series, I’ll share with you tips and tricks to help you get your 6-month email marketing and communications plan started ASAP!