Last week I wrote a post, Email Rules to Live By, covering the legal specifics of mass email. I wanted to say a few words about best practices that go beyond an organization’s legal responsibility.
Be clear and transparent about how you intend to use donor information. If you tell a donor you will use their email one way and then use it a different way it will damage that relationship. If you send out mass emails using email lists that you have purchased or rented, be aware of how those emails are received in the mind of the individuals and/or organizations receiving them. If you purchase a list, find a way to make your message applicable to the individuals that are receiving it. For example I’ve sent mailings to local chamber of commerce lists. Address these organizations as members of your Chamber of Commerce and you’ll get a much better response rate.
Email solicitations can be one of the most effective ways to find and engage new donors. However, make sure you are aware of what message you are sending. If you send a lot of unsolicited emails, you should run the names and emails through your database so you know if you’re emailing the same person twice or if they have asked to be removed from your mailing list. Email communications and social media communications is about building trust. When this trust is electronic, it can be very easily damaged or lost, so be careful about what you say to large groups of people. Don’t try to trick them into giving or attending an event, or even simply opening your email.
Does anyone have any success or failure stories they’d like to share? I’d love to hear how your organization is managing or mismanaging email to help us all continue to do a better job.