Annual Appeal Follow up: Getting Your Email Through

annual appeal email iconRaise your hand if you have a “dummy” email address for businesses that you think might clutter your email box.  I think a lot of people do this, but then no one wants to check these coupon, discount and spam laden accounts – I know I dread doing it.

But, if you are a nonprofit ending up in the spam address – how can you ensure your annual appeal follow up messages are getting through? Or encourage a repeat gift from a donor or engage a prospect with a reminder to a direct mail appeal that you sent out just before Thanksgiving?  The answer lies in getting them excited about your information during the first eleven months of the year.

Here are a few suggestions for getting through the clutter:

  1. Make sure you are consistently sending valuable information to the same email address.  And by valuable, I mean important to the recipient.   If you are judiciously (read: not too often to annoy) using email for updates, activities, and exciting events, readers will look for your emails.  If you overuse or abuse the relationship – into the spam box you go.
  2. Consider sending a postcard or letter to anyone who has not opened one of your emails in the past six months.   People don’t want to think that you are watching their online habits too closely (although many organizations – nonprofit and otherwise – are doing just that) but explain that there are often last minute invitations or ticket offers that only come through email.  And make sure there are invitations and ticket offers from time to time.  In other words, get them to whitelist you.
  3. Offer something offline that must be redeemed online or through a recent email.  Maybe it is an offer that your donation will be matched if you use the code in your email.  Or a free promotional product if you use the link in your email.  Be creative but again, make it benefit the donor more than the organization.
  4. Send newsletters via email.  If people like seeing your newsletter, they will make sure they receive it.  Make sure it provides a combination of personal stories, information, donor appreciation and an up-to-date calendar.  The organizations that offer me interesting, or essential for me, information get me to look proactively for them when I don’t see them for a few days or after something has changed in my email setups.

Of course, if you need agency specific ideas about how Mersky, Jaffe & Associates can improve your annual fund, email me at