Does your nonprofit send out a regular newsletter? Periodic updates or alerts?
It does take effort. And it’s not likely you'll see the same direct return you do on specific appeals. So, why bother?
In theory, engagement emails serve multiple purposes:
• help build understanding of your organization’s mission
• provide updates on key outcomes or success stories
• remind supporters of the good work they make possible
• let them know about other ways to get involved
• help people remember who you are and what you do
All good, loyalty-building goals, right?
We wanted to put the theory to test. So, we selected a couple of clients committed to a robust email strategy (regular enewsletters, periodic updates or alerts as well as occasional advocacy outreach in addition to direct fundraising appeals) to see if we could identify any apparent trends.
We limited our focus to constituents on file at least six months and used clickthroughs as a measure of engagement. (We’ve done similar assessments using email opens but feel clickthroughs provide a more reliable indicator of interest.)
We started out by looking at giving in two categories – the likelihood of giving any gift and the likelihood of committing to a recurring or sustaining gift - and found that more engaged constituents do, in fact, appear to be more likely to give. About five times more likely to give at all; 10 times more likely to commit to a recurring gift.
Not surprising, perhaps; we’ve preached this for years. But it's always reassuring when the evidence supports the claim!
How much is it worth?
That will vary by organization, obviously. As a starting point, we looked at giving during the 2015 calendar year. The trend lines seem pretty consistent.
It may be worth asking yourself: would a 10-fold (or greater) increase in donor value make the effort required for engagement seem a little more worthwhile?