Making the Most of Your Giving Tuesday
Sami Bedell-Mulhern 0:00
Hey everybody, welcome to the October guest expert training inside the nonprofit boot camp. So excited. You’re here we have guest expert Vanessa Jake Chase lakshan joining us today talk about email, I feel like I always want to your last name, I don’t know why.
Vanessa Chase Lockshin 0:18
Sami Bedell-Mulhern 0:21
We’re here to talk email and your Giving Tuesday campaign. But this can be related to any one day giving or just any campaign that you’re doing in general. So I’m gonna let her introduce herself. But before we do that, just a couple of housekeeping things. Patrick is here as well, my partner in crime, we are going to be monitoring the chat. So if you have any questions, please feel free to drop them in there. We’ll be checking in on those as we go. And for those of you that are nonprofit bootcamp, members, this replay will be available inside your dashboard within a couple of days. So you can check it out and replay it and get all of your strategies refined and going there. But without further ado, I would love to just Vanessa, why don’t you just introduce yourself? And go ahead and take it away?
Vanessa Chase Lockshin 1:09
Yeah. Hi, everyone. My name is Vanessa Chase loaction. I run a company called the storytelling nonprofit, we specialize in helping organizations tell great stories in email fundraising campaigns. I’ve been doing this work since. So it’s been a while. I’ve been in fundraising since 2010. And running my consultancy since 2012. But I would say, probably the most important thing to know about me is that I live and breathe email fundraising, five days a week at least. And right now, going into your own fundraising, it’s something that’s super top of mind for me, for my clients, and probably for all of you as well. So I’m really excited to be here today to just talk about what you can do to really make the most of your Giving Tuesday campaign. So here introduce myself, I’m not gonna say too much more about that. But I would love to hear from those of you who are here live with us. How are you feeling about? I would say both writing your Giving Tuesday emails, and also more generally, like, how are you feeling about your campaign this year? Feel free to write in the chat. And I’ll just pop over there and check and see how folks are doing. I feel like from people I’ve talked to so far this year, it’s been a real mixed bag, some are feeling really nervous feeling, you know, really excited going into this year. I feel like we’re always at different ends of the spectrum. Yeah. Yeah, it’s me theory working on writing for clients. And they’re definitely stressed out about how to get over the get hurt over the noise. Yeah, I hear that a lot from clients as well, where they’re just like, really anxious about like the volume of communication that happens on these like really intense giving days, whether it’s giving Tuesday, or you’re even thinking about like a statewide or local Giving Day. You know, the benefits of these days are one that like givings more top of mind for people. But we are competing with a lot of other organizations to try to figure out how to stand out in people’s inboxes on social and advertising, like all the things that come up. I would say for me at this point, you know, I always go into writing feeling like a little bit anxious to be honest. And I do writing professionally and have for over a decade now. And I would say like if you’re feeling at all nervous or catastrophizing about your campaign this year, know that that’s normal. It’s like part of what we all do, I feel like in fundraising and in writing, acknowledge it, you know, hold some space for it. And like, let’s get to work. Like let’s continue to work on our campaigns and not get stuck in procrastination because one of the most important things in I think fundraising generally, but also in writing as well is time time is our friend. In these situations, time to edit time to mull things over whatever that looks like, is going to help us really run our best campaigns. So I thought I’d start by just talking about what I think about, it’s kind of like the foundation for any kind of campaign. And in this case, we’ll talk about the foundations for giving Tuesday campaigns. I often tell people that like your central message cannot be it’s giving Tuesday, make your donation, it’s not going to cut it, it’s not compelling enough. And it’s certainly not going to be enough of an impetus for people to give, we really have to hone into something deeper and have some I think like a little bit more meat on the bones for people to sink their teeth into in their campaigns. So I want to just talk to you about how I think about messaging kind of generally for campaigns. And I always create kind of like an initial brief that outlines these pieces,
just so that I have them for reference. And the thing that I think is really helpful about it is when you have this in place, you can then move into writing, whether it’s emails or content or other things for your campaign, and you already have some sort of high level vision for where the campaign is going, what needs to happen. So you’re not really starting from scratch when you sit down front of that Google Doc or Word doc to get started on things. So as I said, this is kind of like the foundational pieces, or at least how I think about it. And I’ll just talk about these quickly. And I’m going to give you an example. And then happy to do some workshopping with folks as well. If you want to talk about your pieces for your campaign, or even if you’re like, I don’t know, whatever they are, yeah, that’s okay. So the most important piece of your campaign is understanding what is the core problem you’re going to talk about. So there has to be some kind of problem going on whether it’s, you know, demand for your services, an issue in the community, something kind of in the larger, you know, social or political landscape, there needs to be some kind of problem that’s going to prompt people to be engaged and to give to a solution that’s going to address this problem. It’s really, really important. So identifying what that one thing is that you’re going to talk about is really, really key. So you want to start with that. And then you want to think about the context. And so I always tell people, I think this is about like, helping people understand why the problem is a problem. So what information do people need to know, to make sense of this problem that you want to talk to them about, you need to have some concept of what your solution is. So whether it’s a certain program, you know, donating to a certain fund that you may have, any number of things like this solution is giving well, at a very basic level, by giving to what is what you need to be able to understand and articulate to people, you also really need to have a compelling reason or reasons for giving. And I often tell people having one really solid reason for giving to a campaign, in light of kind of like the context and the core problem. And the solution that you want to talk about, is so much better than having five like mediocre reasons for donating. So I would encourage you to really dig into why should people donate, and really kind of keep going and going and going with that I asked him to help people to just keep asking themselves why and go like a couple why layers deep in their reason for giving, to really get to something that might be truly compelling and work really well with some of the other pieces that you’ve laid out there. So first, the ask and then the urgency. Urgency is such a big thing in fundraising. And I think the nice thing about giving days is that some of that urgency is built in already, right? Like we have one day we’re doing this one day fundraiser, we’re trying to reach a certain goal, by the end of the day, a certain number of new donors, whatever that might be for your organization, there’s probably some urgency that’s already going to surface in there a little bit and be able to tie in really nicely to your your, your campaign. Yeah, so good question. So if we solve multiple problems, how do we know which ones to pick? Yeah, I, I would look at just like what is kind of a unifying theme or concepts that maybe pulls through all of those problems. So can you find a way to kind of find a unifier that can help you kind of like touch on all of those? Again, it might come back to something as simple as like, your mission statement like that probably addresses some of the problem that you’re solving already, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel on this. So really go back to basics. In some ways. If you’re feeling like there’s a lot to articulate. But if you feel like they’re really different or unique issues or problems that you’re working on, think about which one maybe has like the best case for giving right now, which one might be the most compelling. And you might even do kind of like a brief like this for each of the problems, just you can kind of see what kind of shape your campaign might take. So let me give you an example here of what this looks like. I’ll walk you through one of my clients, examples of this from last year. And then I’m happy to also workshop ideas with folks who are live on the call with us. If you’re kind of thinking about how do I do this for my organization, we can definitely talk about that a little bit more. So one of my longtime agency clients is for ADVC, they work with children who have special needs, providing families with grants to get kids, the resources, supplies and equipment that they need to thrive at school and at home. So for for their campaign last year. You know, there’s obviously a lot of problems under the umbrella of special needs someone might be dealing with. Our kind of problem that we wanted to talk about was that all too often what kids need to thrive isn’t covered by health insurance. That was kind of the big unifying concept of the campaign. And the context for why that problem was a problem was that 1000s of kids in British Columbia where I live, need additional resources, support or equipment to thrive and that isn’t really covered by health insurance. And for us, we’ve really felt like the compelling reason to give in addition to the fact that like these kids are waiting on really essential things they need was it parents were really left scrambling to figure out how to cover the costs of what their child needs, and in some cases, they couldn’t keep up with a cost like they were looking at, you know, 1000s of dollars in additional costs for specialized therapy or mobility equipment or something like that. So for this one of the things that I thought worked really well is that the compelling reason to give actually like heightens the stakes of the problem, right, we’ve we’ve told people about a problem, we’ve given them some information to maybe like wrap around that a little bit. But we’ve also told them something else that kind of, again, like heightens the stakes of the problem, which is that not only is it an isn’t covered by health insurance, many families are struggling to keep up with these costs. And that just kind of like adds to the layer of complexity of why we can solve this or why needs to be solved. So the solution variety BC, and their supporters can provide grants to ensure that kids have what they need. The Ask was giving to the Giving Tuesday campaign, and we use the urgency as a matching gift opportunity on GivingTuesday. I’m sure lots of you have seen matching gifts come through campaigns with nonprofits in the last couple of years. It’s a pretty popular strategy these days. And we we leverage that as a part of our urgency, in addition to like the time sensitive, like one day campaign, we also have this one day matching opportunity that we can use for our organization.
Yeah, so I would be really happy. If any of you have questions or you want to talk through some of your own examples, you want to workshop something here. I know, we’re a small group today where we can definitely talk about, you know, identifying your core problem, what that can look like. And you know, how we can how we can kind of shape that a little bit more for your organization?
Sami Bedell-Mulhern 11:26
Vanessa, I’m not gonna lie. I’m gonna call Andrea out because I know her. But not to say that is right now. But I know that there are much more sensitive topic. So how can you maybe go into like a Giving Tuesday, like urgency thing without being insensitive to the fact that like your topic, isn’t? It’s not puppies and children? Right? Like, it’s not like a feel good thing. So like, how might you kind of go through this process for something that isn’t a warm and fuzzy as we’re just coming out of,
Vanessa Chase Lockshin 12:00
I need to, I just need to build one of those examples into here, because it’s possible. I was actually talking with somebody about those yesterday, who worked at an art like an artist Guild, and he he, like I had shown this example, and a presentation he had seen and he’s like, we’re like light years away from helping kids with special needs, like we help working artists, like do their art, like, how can we make this case? And I think it’s just a matter of like asking yourself some questions. Right. So in this case, like with the artists guild, you know, I asked the question of like, why is it important to have working artists in the community? Like, What value did they add? What are they bringing into the community in terms of culture? You know, in terms of opportunities for engagement, like, those kinds of things than just I think asking some, like, hammer, think of them as like existential questions about like, what it is you’re funding to kind of get at some of that, because there’s always a hook for this, like, I think even with like environmental causes as well, like people will often tell me, like, I worked with them, the land trust alliance for years, which was all about, like preserving conservation land, and people were like, well, like, it’s not that compelling for somebody to leave us, like a gift of 10 acres and their property, like, how can we tell people that this is important? And I think like, you just kind of keep asking yourself, well, like, why is it so important that we preserve land, and, you know, their reasons were like, you know, environmental green space, having places for families to go, you know, things like that. And a lot of their kind of thing came down to like preserving land for people to enjoy for generations. And that was kind of like the compelling hook for them and being able to think about how they could frame the campaign and make it a little less like cerebral in terms of like, oh, like, you know, we acquire like land deeds, and then like preserve this area, which is like, on the surface, not that interesting for a lot of people.
Patrick Kirby 13:53
You know, Vanessa, one of the things from the art thing that we’ve seen in a couple of other samples and clients is that it’s very EDC and chamber centric now. And the reason that art is so important in communities is that, yeah, it makes us look good and feel good and whatever. It’s attractive to keep talent so that you’re relying on businesses, when you’re talking to and writing to businesses. You’re going to keep your and attract your talent, the more you invest into art and culture and then feel great. So all of a sudden, this becomes Yeah, it feels really good and warm and fuzzy to see a wonderful mural in the downtown area that may be dilapidated. What it does, though, on the back end, is it retains people and talent in rural areas or people who are not going to go to another city to find another job because they’d love to feel like they’re accepted. So I love where you framing this in that everything has a story that you can cast this problem in the context and the reason to give is super important. And that in your Statement of hiding the stakes of the problem, people will leave the town if they do not feel appreciated and they Like, I’ve just these brilliant moments that you’re just saying right out of the gate are so wonderful. And you can apply that to anything that some of these nonprofits have. Brilliant, I just wanted to call you brilliant really quickly, and then hop back.
Vanessa Chase Lockshin 15:15
Thank you. Yeah, and good examples, too. I appreciate you agree to extrapolating on the arts example a little bit more. So I hope that this helps some of you, as you’re thinking about just like the framework and like framing for your campaigns, I think it’s like such an important groundwork to do before you even get to writing the emails, because, you know, you might, you’re probably going to write more than one email, and you’re giving Tuesday’s series and being able to, like, have these kind of like through lines that you can bring in your emails from start to finish will create momentum in the messaging and help you build really nice narrative arcs throughout, which is an important piece of the puzzle. So let’s talk a little bit more about like other things you can do in terms of preparing and just kind of like getting things ready. In addition to like the framing piece of your campaign. A few of the other things that I start thinking about now are like getting your email calendar ready creating your donation pages, or if you’re using one central page, like what changes do you need to make to your existing campaign page, once the campaign goes live, getting emails written, creating graphics, like all of your social media posts, these are all things you can do ahead of time. And I just always like to remind people that like, when you’re working a little bit out ahead of campaigns, it gives you the space to respond in real time to things that are happening in the campaign. So for instance, I have a client right now, who’s running a week long campaign Monday to Friday, right now. You know, we’re not writing emails that are going out tomorrow. Today, those got written a couple of weeks ago, partially because we want the opportunity to look at like real time data that’s coming in through the campaigns and think about, okay, like, based on the strategy that we’ve set, the things that we said we were going to do this year, do we need to make some changes? What tweaks? Can we do? Do we need to send an extra email based on like results we’re doing and I think it moves you into a more like intentional place that’s like far less reactive, in some ways, like once the campaign is happening. But again, again, I think, like in any kind of campaign, whether it’s giving Tuesday, or like the whole month of December, that kind of thinking and way of working can really work in your favor. So let’s talk a little bit about just like, the kinds of emails you can send and getting those things organized.
You know how I’m curious. For those of you who are on here, how do you currently manage and track some of the emails you’ve sent to your list? Do you use like a spreadsheet calendar? Do you use your email tool? Maybe you use something else? And let me know in the chat box? I’d be curious to hear what? Yeah, but some of you are thinking what you do to kind of manage some of this. Yeah, Sammy, so you only track your email tool? Yeah, no problem. And I definitely have a lot of folks who do that, as well, Andrea, MailChimp, and Monday grades. Yeah. So I always think it’s good to use a combination of your email tool and some kind of project management tool, I’ll be honest, for most of our clients, we just use a spreadsheet. It’s just like, our email calendar tool of choice A lot of times. And there’s a lot of reasons why I like to do this. You know, it’s different than the calendar view that you get inside an email tool like MailChimp, or you can see like all the emails you’ve sent, like in a monthly format. To me, an email calendar or any kind of like project management tool that you might be using, allows you to bring together the pieces for project management and also really benefit from the data insights that you might be getting from your emails and a much more centralized place that’s just really clean and nice to look at. But I think more important than that, I always tell people that having an email calendar in place allows you to have short term plans and medium term vision, which is really important in fundraising, because as they said, a few minutes ago, one of the things that you’re gonna benefit from, in doing this is being able to build narrative arcs, which are, which is this concept that over a series of several emails, you know, weeks, or maybe even like a couple of months, you’re really focused on some really key messages. And you’re really getting people familiar with this messaging, getting them educated about the messaging, engaging them with that messaging, and that’s really beneficial when you flip the switch over into your fundraising campaign. I would say the number one mistake I see a lot of organizations make with email is that they don’t spend time preparing people for the campaign portion of what they’re doing. They’re like sending, like just random not related emails leading up to that like, you know, their newsletter, like their E News or event information or other things and they’re lacking that strategy piece of thinking about how are we preparing people to give which is a really good question to be asking yourself, there’s a lot you can do to prepare people, which is what we’re going to talk about. So, in case you don’t use an email calendar, or you’re just looking for some other ways to think about yours. Here’s just some of the pieces I have in our state. Under email calendars, I had to break this out into two pieces, because the whole thing was not going to fit all the way across. But we track things like the send date. So one of the going out the email name that corresponds in the email tool, we also put some kind of basic pieces of information about the email, like the concepts that what it is we’re doing the story of like any kind of storytelling that we’re doing in their assets that we need, especially if we’re coordinating like graphics or videos or other things for them. And then, you know, things like targeting that we might be doing on an email list, tracking, like whether or not we’ve received those data files. And then just in this bottom part here, all of the data pieces of those individual emails, so open rates, send great open rates, click through rates, unsubscribes. And then any given data that we’ve also gotten in from those emails, it’s just a really great way to be able to, like, as I said, like, collate everything in one place and track that over time, it’s very helpful if you don’t use something like this. So definitely recommend doing that. So let’s talk about what you can put in your email, calendar and kinds of emails, you may want to think about sending on GivingTuesday. So they said I think about the campaign has been kind of like the Have a think that it is like the cultivation phase, and then the asking phase of the campaign. So you can think about these as line of like you’re giving Tuesday, warm up the emails, things you might be sending to your email list in the like two to four weeks ahead of time giving Tuesday. So this is where you can kind of pull through some of the things that you thought about in the foundations of your campaign messaging. So you can tell stories about the context. And the problem for that you can talk about, you know what your organization is doing about the problem to address it, or why it hasn’t been addressed the way it needs to be addressed until this point. You can also talk about how donations can help your organization make a difference. This is a big piece I have been, I feel like this year has been the year for a lot of my clients really pulling in more social proof into email campaigns. And so we’ve been really focused on donor testimonials, donor storytelling, which is great like that taps into kind of shared values among the donor community, it highlights other people who are like the people who are reading the emails who donate, which is a great thing. But I mean, even more generally, you can just talk about like, you know why donations are so necessary to the work you’re doing, again, to kind of prepare people for why donating matters and getting them ready for that Giving Tuesday ask. So that I just share a couple examples of emails that I’ve worked on last year, and what these look like kind of pre Giving Tuesday emails. So this was one that we sent. Gosh, I feel like it was probably a couple weeks before giving Tuesday, like two or three weeks before giving Tuesday. My client variety DC had just come off of a really a much bigger campaign than giving Tuesday about six weeks before that called variety week. And at this point in our email program, we were definitely in stewardship mode, still thanking people for their variety week donations, engaging them with content and storytelling and getting them to just be engaged on the email list was kind of generally our goal for that. So what we did at this time, kind of in the couple weeks leading into giving Tuesday was we pulled stories from that campaign from the variety we campaign and repurpose them into stewardship, so we could get them back in front of people. As they said, our goal was really to get people engaged with the email content and the brand. And also reminding them that giving makes a difference. Like there’s a real impact that it has on the end user, the kids at this charity works with being able to just like get that in front of them again, more often Was this helpful for us. Another GivingTuesday email that we sent last year, I think this one we sent on like the Friday or Sunday before giving Tuesday, we used GivingTuesday to kick off the organization’s month long holiday campaign called tree of hurts. And so in this email, we really wanted to give people an overview of what was coming up and kind of the important high level pieces of the campaign. You know, first and foremost, we highlighted the needs. So we wanted to, like get people familiar with like, we’re going to talk about this problem. And you know, not like have a come out of left field at them. So this idea that like they continue to have an unprecedent number of families coming to them for help was like one that we wanted to communicate. And then tying into the fact that like, you know, making a donation this time if yours, right, so here’s, you know, it can be matched. It makes a difference, like all of those kind of warm, fuzzy things. And I like sending emails like this ahead of time from big campaigns. I feel like it’s just a nice warm up email to tell people like this is coming and here’s like, all the details of what we can tell people.
Sammy, good question, what is your question was How long is too long for an email? Um, I don’t know. I tend to write emails that are anywhere from like 150 too, I would say about like 500 words, I think 500 words is kind of like my max these days. I have, there’s been times in the past where I’ve written emails that are more about like more for advocacy based organizations that have been much longer like 750 to 1000 words, but it’s a different kind of audience that will appreciate like the in depth explanation and analysis on things that are happening. Whereas like, for a 501, C three, that’s like not doing advocacy work, or rapid response work, anything like that, you know, your emails may not necessarily need to be like in the weeds analysis of what’s happening in the news cycle? Because the follow up
Sami Bedell-Mulhern 25:44
question there. Yeah, please do. As you’re kind of keying up and planning some of these emails, is it good to maybe test like a couple of short versions and long versions to see what your audience?
Vanessa Chase Lockshin 25:56
Yes, I would recommend doing that. Yeah, because you’re probably gonna send more than one email over the course of Giving Tuesday and everything else that’s going on, it’s great to get some variety going in your email, friends. So this one’s like pretty text heavy, right. And I’ll show you an example of like the giving one of the Giving Tuesday day of emails that we send, that’s also like, quite text heavy. But we also do things like send a really short email with a video that like a steal from a video from their campaign. And that will send people like directly to the donation page with the video at the top and the giving form below. There’s lots of things you can do to kind of like play around with email length and graphics and what that looks like. And yeah, I think I think in the spirit of just kind of like keeping things fresh and trying new things, and also like figuring out what your email list is responsive to it’s yeah, it’s great to think about them. Thanks for bringing that up. Okay, so let’s talk about the Day of Giving Tuesday. I typically forgiving Tuesday day of I think about sending like two emails, usually a morning ask, which is going to be the one that you’re probably going to get the highest response rate to, and then a follow up to non responders. So typically, this is to anyone who hasn’t yet donated to the campaign and getting that back in front of people. I’m not gonna lie, I often refund the same email in the morning again, in the evening, you do not need to reinvent the wheel friends, if your morning email did pretty well, and you were pleased with how that email did, I would encourage you to resend the same email with the same subject line in the evening, and you will probably get another five to 15% of the original response rate using that same email with not a ton of extra work on your part. I have had clients in the past who wanted to send out like a midday update about their progress to goal if they have like a really specific public goal that they announced. And I would say they’re doing really well with it. They’re using that to just kind of try to capitalize on the momentum in that goal. I saw a question from Patrick about best times to send emails I like to send so here’s the thing, I do a lot of subject line testing. So if you are running like an AB subject line test on an email, typically from start to finish of that whole test, it’s going to take about four hours. So I often will start tests at like six or seven in the morning, knowing that like the full list and won’t be complete in that case until like 10 or 11 in the morning, which is which is great. So sending on the earlier side is helpful. Unfortunately, with giving Tuesday, right, we don’t have the opportunity to like dabble in what day of the week is going to work well. But I would definitely recommend in the earlier side for sure that day. And how it looks I share an example of one of my really long form emails, Giving Tuesday last year, I’ll just say a couple things about how I write emails in case it’s helpful for some of us you think about your emails for giving Tuesday or other end of your emails that you might want to think about. I write my emails some of them and are really specific to ask structure. And there’s a reason I do that. One is that I a mistake I see sometimes with email is that the only ask is at the bottom, it’s buried really far, maybe it’s only a donate now button. That’s not enough to like get the kind of click throughs that you’re probably going to need to see a decent conversion rate on your email. So I always think about the fact that like attention spans are short and digital, right? So I want to get to the point really quickly, which is the whole point of the first ask over on that left side of the screen. I’m writing like I’m writing about get back there we go. Somewhere between like 125 to 150 words kind of like the gist of what’s going on enough information for somebody to care and make a decision and getting them to a hyperlink super fast in the email. I would say over the last two years of email data I’ve looked at across a couple of different client camp accounts. That first link is always the one that we get the most clicks on so it does work really well. Um And definitely helps us kind of capitalize on a higher conversion rate within the audiences. And then in the second part of the email, we really focus on extrapolating on what we said in the first part. So we usually get into a specific story kind of more of the emotional pieces of the appeal. Not that the first part was an emotional, but just like diving into more of like the personal story or example around that, and then making a second ask as well. I always think about that second part of the email as like, this is where we’re trying to convince the unconvinced, right, like somebody who hasn’t clicked on that first link that’s still reading, like, God love them, they’re still in our email, which is great, we want them to be there. But we want to give them enough information at that point more information so that they are convinced by our reasons for giving. And we can get them over to that donate page.
Alright, so I thought I would just wrap up with like a little bit of additional email food for thought just some like other tips that I have on your emails, if you’re thinking about other creative things you can do with emails, or just some other little quick wins. I’ll start with matching gifts. Like we talked about this at the beginning, matching gifts are popular strategy these days. I will say though, they are everywhere. And you probably need to find a more compelling angle for your matching gift than double or triple your impact. I see that language a lot of places these days. And I think it is becoming more and more watered down with more organizations using it. So one of the things that I’ve done with clients this last year is we’ve really looked at, like creative ways to use the match that will compel people to donate. So one of those was that we ran a monthly giving conversion campaign. And we said that if you become a monthly donor during this campaign, your first Your monthly gift will be matched for the whole first year. So it was something like different that people may have seen before. It was like a really nice kind of tight offer for the fundraising, ask and give people a reason to become a monthly donor, which is often a hard sell, I think was most of us know, the other one we had. This was for variety BC, they have a stat where it’s like, it costs an average of $2,500 to help one child so we segmented out donors who we thought were like kind of a good mid level ask. And we asked them to donate $1,250 In an email, and said that like with a match, their gift is going to help one child this was super compelling, it was probably one of the highest converting emails I’ve written in the last two years. So get creative, look at your data. And just think about like what else you can do to kind of position matching gifts in a way that’s going to be enticing and a little different for for your donors. I would also encourage you to think about how you can turn donors into ambassadors, you know, fundraising, we often talk about like the engagement ladder. So taking people from like, kind of like that path of watcher non donor to becoming a donor to becoming a monthly donor or major donor like any other kind of role that they might be able to take on within your organization. I like to think about how we can take them from donor to Ambassador like quickly after we’ve had them make a donation. So this is where you can kind of equip them to take your campaign to their networks, like hopefully, they were excited to make a donation because they did make one. So on your Thank You screen or in your thank you email, invite them to share a post on social media, maybe you already have one written and pin somewhere on one of your profiles, you can direct them there and say like, Hey, share this post and add your message about why you became a donor today or why you made your donation to the campaign. I also love for to a friend email. So just like reminding your recent donors like you know, if you have like, you know, for this email to like two friends that you know who might be interested in our cause and ask them to join you and making a donation. Let’s see what else pezzi to like, email us like such a numbers game and a lot of ways, which is why I like it. Also, it’s also part of what makes it frustrating. So I would just say like send at the very start, like, just think about sending to your biggest universe size possible. Like that’s kind of like the big key thing. You know, I’ve run into organizations who over segment or over suppress their email lists. And I would encourage you not to do that. If you can just like focus on sending to the most people you can look at maximizing your open rates with even AB subject line tests, that’s going to be always helpful. I would say I rarely send an email these days. Without subject line testing. It’s just a very much a part of what I do and how I operate. And also just look at ways you can maximize your click throughs using full sentence links in your emails and also buttons. Again, like you probably you may have noticed I can some of the examples of the emails I shared. We use like full sentences or even paragraphs in some ways with hyperlinking because I want it to be really easy and obvious for people to find that link to donate. I see a lot of fundraising emails were only like the phrase like Donate now or please make your donation are hyperlinked and I have to say like I In a mobile phone, it’s not always easy to spot those. So if you can make it bigger and more obvious for people that’s going to work in your favor as well,
Patrick Kirby 35:07
if so, talk a little bit about on that page on the testing, right? I think a lot of nonprofits look at a B testing, they’re like, Well, I’m gonna need a bachelor of arts degree in analytics or stats to figure out that, that that is overwhelming to somebody who doesn’t who’s never thought of this or never done that, for sure. Yeah, walk through what that looks like. So that I, my brain, as a nonprofit leader doesn’t explode with frustration about not knowing that.
Vanessa Chase Lockshin 35:34
Yeah, so subject line testing, and or AV testing. In general, like the concept of it is that you were dividing your list into essentially like kind of four parts. So there’s the a segment, which is about 25% of your list, the B segment, that’s another 25% of your list. And then there’s the C segment, which is the other 50%. And so what you’re gonna do is send the A and B pieces, and then the winner of that would go to the C segment with the idea is this that you’re able to maximize the C segments engagement with, like whatever the winner was, in those one of those first two, The brilliant thing about most email tools these days, with a few exceptions, I think, in particular, like Blackbaud products, unfortunately, is that they automate a B testing. So I, a lot of my clients use MailChimp as their email tools, you can set up an A B test, so that it automates all of this, you will just tell your email to like, this is the variable I want to test. And like in this case, it would be subject lines, you’d give it to subject lines, you’d tell it to like pick the winner based on the highest open, and then it’s all done. And then when it’s done sending, it’ll like send you the report of how that happened, like what happened, what the winner was, and you’re able to kind of reap the benefits of testing without doing a whole lot. So it’s, hopefully it’s not super complicated. There are like ways you can run manual testing to. But I would honestly not recommend that I would just like use whatever is automated through your email tool, it’ll be much easier. All right. I just like a last tip for you here. On this, I would just encourage you to also think about your board as a resource to within your email program. I think this is an overlooked one sometimes. So activate them as a part of your GivingTuesday team, ask them to share your social media posts on their personal pages. And tell them like you know, we’re going to send a morning email to our email list which your board should be on, and ask them to send it to at least five contacts with a personal note, this is a great way to engage your boards networks and get them to do something that’s hopefully going to be really helpful for your organization. And even send them like a Giving Tuesday, like a morning reminder of just being like hey, like he asked you to do this thing a couple weeks ago, today’s the day here’s the email, like get busy and start sending this to some folks and just engaging their networks a little bit more. Yeah, Andrea, any thoughts on using or not using the time optimization tool. That’s a MailChimp specifically, I don’t think that’s in a ton of other email tools. I like it sometimes. Because it really like MailChimp does glean a lot of user interaction data about like when people are most likely to be in their inboxes. So it can be helpful if that’s something that you think would be helpful. I tend to use that more when we’re not doing subject line testing, when I know we’re just going to do like a full list send about something. And we just want to like maximize the engagement rate on it. That tends to be when I use it. But yeah, I feel like I don’t have a ton of feelings about using it either way. I feel like these things are like all great tools to have in our back pockets that we can like access within our email tools. And if they help us fantastic if we don’t really notice a difference over a number of email sends, like also okay, and not a big deal. Yeah. All right. Well, with that, I think we’ll go ahead and like wrap up to questions I was also just going to share with folks if you are interested in like doing a little bit more work on writing the emails, writing stories for emails, I do have an on demand training that you’re welcome to check out if you’d like over at the storytelling nonprofit forward slash free training, where we get into a little bit more of the mechanics of how do we find stories to tell in emails what do we need to say in them and some more of like the copywriting elements of it. So if that’s interesting to you and encourage you to come come over hang out with us and check that out as well. Yeah, so happy to answer questions or if folks have things from earlier in the presentation example they want to talk about from their own work. Definitely happy to stick around for a few minutes and chit chat.
Patrick Kirby 39:48
Oh, that’s brilliant. By the way. There’s like there’s a there’s like, I love taking notes are like super smart people way smarter than I am and my I’ve got way too many to count. So, I think maybe, if you wanted to touch on like, Okay, you’re done with your campaign for like a GivingTuesday. Is there a cadence that you would suggest for a post campaign? Thank you. Segment. And how long do you do that? And I mean, I know it’s never enough time to say thank you, I get that. But is there like a preference that you have for a thank you cadence?
Vanessa Chase Lockshin 40:21
Yeah, I feel like it looks a little different for me in December, because hopefully, we’re gonna get people to donate again in the last two days of the year, right. Whereas like in a normal month, we’re probably not going to get people to make two donations in a month. Usually, it’s like pretty rare. So for giving Tuesday, usually what I do, I want to send like some stewardship pretty quickly after like, within, I would say, like 24 to 72 hours after like, we want to get like a nice kind of story based stewardship piece in front of people in their inboxes. And then typically, what we’ll do is then spend like, that time between Giving Tuesday at I would say, like Christmas somewhere in there sending like another one to two stewardship emails, just like kind of like the warm fuzzy things to like, remind people about, like, why it was so great, they made a given Tuesday donation. And then in that week after Christmas, like adding that back them back into fundraising apps that we might have been sending to the rest of our list who had not made a GivingTuesday donation.
Sami Bedell-Mulhern 41:17
So I wanted to touch on something that you said earlier about, like giving Tuesday leading into the year end giving campaign because I think we get we feel like we have to create two separate campaigns.
Vanessa Chase Lockshin 41:33
No, no. Don’t do
Sami Bedell-Mulhern 41:37
that and kind of share how like one can just flow into each other. And we don’t have to create two completely different things, they can be the same thing that are just continuing to spread that message. So like we’re not losing that opportunity. I’m giving Tuesday, we’re just expanding that that space.
Vanessa Chase Lockshin 41:51
Yeah, well, I mean, campaigns can like be whatever you want to make them right. Like you This is the great thing that you get to make the rules about how the campaign works, and like what’s happening. So I think if you were planning to like pull through the concepts of the campaign beyond giving Tuesday, and like throughout the whole holiday month and holiday giving season, I would probably frame it as like it’s giving Tuesday, we’re kicking off our campaign and like we’re hoping to raise like X amount of money to like, have a super strong start to this year’s campaign or something like that. And you’re really just frame it as like, you know, we’re getting started today. And like we’re using getting Tuesdays, it’s a great opportunity to start our campaign, anything like that can be really great. But I think that like so much of the messaging that you’ll develop for giving Tuesday, like, it’s like I don’t think evergreen is like quite the right word for it. But like it can transcend Giving Tuesday, like you can keep reusing it and keep coming back to those like messaging points. The only thing I would say is like, if you felt like it didn’t go well on Giving Tuesday, and you felt like your messaging missed the mark, you’re kind of doing some post mortem on the campaign, and you’re like, well, maybe we could have like, chosen a different angle, then perhaps you want to consider some other things in December. But I really wouldn’t start over. After giving Tuesday, like I would just keep the momentum going and keep talking about the things that we were already talking about.
Sami Bedell-Mulhern 43:14
I love that. And like the the formula, and like the kind of the structure that you’ve laid out for everybody here is something they can use for their spring appeal or whatever else they have going on throughout the year. Right.
Vanessa Chase Lockshin 43:27
Yeah. Rinse and repeat. That’s a lot about fundraising. That’s right.
Sami Bedell-Mulhern 43:33
No, I do think it’s rinse and repeat. But I think we tend to overcomplicate it and think that we have to do something new and different every single time because our audience has already heard it, or they already know this message. No, I
Vanessa Chase Lockshin 43:44
often tell people I mean, I spent a lot of time thinking about messaging and with some of the students in one of my my courses, I feel like every year, like multiple times a year, I have conversations with people about like, oh, like we’ve said the same thing too many times, like nobody’s gonna want to hear this again. And I’m always like, well, you like if it sounds like you’re a broken record, like you’re on message, you’re doing something right. Like, and I think it’s the same thing with like frequency of email sends. I know a lot of organizations are like, you know, a little like nervous about emailing people too often. But like as the sender and the writer and the creator, kind of like the mastermind about what’s going on in your fundraising program. Like you are naturally more sensitive to all of these things like you’re working in this vacuum, and it can seem like you’re talking about this too much, or you’re sending emails too frequently, but like I just invite you to get some perspective out of that and just think about like, other email lists you’re on and it’s like, do you feel like they’ve talked about the same thing too much in the last like two months because they probably have but you just don’t realize? Or like Have they emailed you a lot more than you think of like, appropriate like, probably not like you probably don’t even remember what was in your inbox yesterday, right?
Patrick Kirby 44:56
You know what, here’s the thing. I hope that you get an email from one of your donors that said, you’re getting, you’re sending me too much stuff. I bet oh my god, I would love it. You know why? Because you know something more about that donor than you did before. And now your cadence can be personalized to that individual a lot more, which means you know about your donor, which means you build better relationships with your donor, because they become now in that an annual sort of campaign random online, they become a one on one donor, because you’re listening, and they told you, and they told you because they love you, and they love you because they pay attention to they pay attention because they want to. Yeah, I hope you do. I hope all of your donors tell you a certain thing, because that means you know more.
Vanessa Chase Lockshin 45:38
Yeah. I tell people, sometimes they should welcome complaints because of that, like, as you said, Patrick, that people who love you the most they’re willing to complain and tell you that, like, they don’t think what you’re doing is great.
Sami Bedell-Mulhern 45:51
Vanessa, I have a question going back to your spreadsheet, your tracker? Sure, yeah. Because a lot of the things that you’re putting on there would be maybe seen as like vanity metrics ish, like, I don’t really want to pay attention to the number of people that are unsubscribing because they’re not going to participate in the anyway. But so we’re looking more like trends over time, right? And what’s performing as opposed to like, focusing on the individual number? Yeah, yes, absolutely. That’s
Vanessa Chase Lockshin 46:20
definitely the purpose of that. And the reason why I look at unsubscribes. I mean, I personally, I feel like very resilient to unsubscribes on email lists, where I’m like, it’s not a big deal. Like, there’s always gonna be more people to come back. And it’s like, not a problem. But what I want to look at is like, are we seeing spikes in the unsubscribe rate? And like, typically, you know, depending on the list I’m working on, like, you know, we have an unsubscribe rate that’s like, above, like point 6%. Like, I feel like the alarm bells are kind of going off in my mind. And like, did we send people something that was like, really different that just like didn’t resonate? You know, like, what was going like, that’s, for me a place to be curious about, like, what was going on with that email, but like, didn’t work for people. So that we can use that to, like, inform future strategy that we’re thinking about. And also just looking to like, even over time, like over a series of emails or something being like, okay, like, we saw, like, an aggressively high unsubscribe rate this month, like, what are what are we going to do in the next month to like, kind, of course correct. Or think about things a little differently?
Sami Bedell-Mulhern 47:23
And so from like, a campaign perspective, like, if you’re looking at Giving Tuesday, and you’re trying to determine, do we send three emails, we sent five emails, like maybe you test something this year, and then you kind of can see what messaging a what messaging is resonating, but then also like, okay, email for, like, things fell off the wagon? Like it was not yes.
Vanessa Chase Lockshin 47:45
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, that’s like, all good. It’s just like, it’s all great data to be able to bring into like a post mortem or a debrief after your campaign. And I know, it’s hard sometimes when you’re in the trenches of the work to be like, I don’t have time to like, stop and look at the metrics and like, think about what did what worked well in this campaign and what didn’t. But like, that’s where you’re gonna find a lot of low hanging fruit and quick wins in an email program, or frankly, like in any part of your fundraising program is to like build in that time post campaign to just evaluate things. And this does not have to be like a full day retreat of evaluating your campaign, even like, it can be a half hour or an hour, like, you know, I’ve seen even today, like, this week long campaign we’re working on right now, like, probably going to take me about like an hour and a half to do some like analytics debrief on this like early next week. And like, that’s fine. Like, that’s like a good chunk of time. Like, it doesn’t always take me that long. But it’s worthwhile because you get data insight from that campaign year over year, you can compare it to past years, you can start to benchmark yourself, it all becomes really, really useful information.
Sami Bedell-Mulhern 48:51
Yeah, I think at the end of the day, we’re what a little over a month away from giving Tuesday, I know some different states have their own giving days. So some people are doing that as well. Yeah, I think the beauty of what you’ve laid out for everybody is a very simple, easy framework to start. And even if you don’t do it perfectly, like do something and start tracking it this year, so you have something to compare against next year, so that you can just continue to build and grow. Yeah, absolutely.
Vanessa Chase Lockshin 49:17
Yeah, yeah. Or I would say if it’s like your first year doing this, I would recommend sending an email like a couple days prior to giving Tuesday and then just like aim to send one email and giving Tuesday and like that’s great. That’s a wonderful starting point. Yeah,
Sami Bedell-Mulhern 49:30
test it. I love it any other final like words of wisdom or thoughts you want to share with people and then we’ll have lots of thoughts.
Vanessa Chase Lockshin 49:40
I feel like there’s so many. I mean, mostly, I just want to say like, give your I didn’t talk about this, but like I often tell people in copywriting, like the magic happens in the editing, like I think that we often think that we have to like turn around one draft like a great First Draft and like shove it through internal approval processes. And that’s where like the editing happens. Do not rely on your executive director to do good editing for you. Like, you should take ownership of that piece. And good editing takes time. So like if you can give yourself an extra day or two in your process to like really, noodle things over consider word choice. Think about like how you could reorganize things in your appeal to make it a little bit more compelling or a little bit punchier. That’s what’s going to make it work. Like the editing is where that happens. The biggest thing that slows me down still, even in my writing is when I’m trying to edit myself as I’m writing. So like write a really crappy first draft and then edit it, it’ll be fine.
Sami Bedell-Mulhern 50:41
I love that I do the same thing. I write comeback rewrite. It’s so much easier. Well, Vanessa, thank you so much for being here for our
Vanessa Chase Lockshin 50:49
pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Sami Bedell-Mulhern 50:51
Presentation. Patrick. Any final words?
Patrick Kirby 50:54
No, I just basking the brilliance. I just love it so much. And thank you again, I think again, uncomplicated, a very complicated and overwhelming sense of end of year campaigning is like the hardest thing to do when you did it with just such an ease and it made so much sense. So thank you so much for all of us. And on behalf of all the nonprofit’s kind of will be taking all this advice along with themselves.
Vanessa Chase Lockshin 51:16
Yeah, my pleasure. Good luck, everyone.
Sami Bedell-Mulhern 51:19
I’ll see you guys soon.