Early this year I met an inspiring man by the name of Guy Ockenden. Guy is the Executive Director of New Zealand Riding for the Disabled (NZRDA), an organisation with a worthy mission statement: Confidence, independence and well being for people with disabilities, through therapeutic horse riding and horse care.
NZRDA is an organisation that has taken great strides over recent years to build unique support for people with disabilities, with 54 member groups around the country.
My first meeting with Guy was brief. I had just delivered a workshop at a FINZ (Fundraising Institute of NZ) meeting in Wellington and Guy told me a little about NZRDA. He was interested in my workshop mentions on email fundraising. My point had been that there was likely to be real value sitting in under-used databases and that email was an underestimated tool to exploit it. I suggested, even if the extent of the database was a list in Outlook, that much could be gained from carefully composing an email to everyone on the list with these vital ingredients:
- Personalise it to the person's first name [Dear Jim].
- Use a plain text email rather than fancy E-Newsletter – makes it seem more personal and direct.
- Make it to the point and interesting – this has to be the subject of another of my posts because content is critical.
- Give a call-to-action – what's the point of your email.
- Consider asking the recipients to pass the email on to others, perhaps everyone in your address book.
- Use the Subject line to give a clear title or even website link.
- Don't forget a link to your website – many people may wish to know more without directly contacting you.
In Guy's case, he gave it a go and reported back to me his delight at how easily he'd raised $10,000 within just a couple of weeks. I now also note that the NZRDA Facebook Fan page has reached the milestone of 1733 fans and their posts feature regularly in news feeds.
Since our first meeting Guy and I have occasionally kept in contact, mainly through comments and messages in Facebook. Guy understands that using new media needed some commitment and that it would be incremental. His story is one that I think can provide some inspiration and ideas for others involved in fundraising.
Why not share your ideas or experiences on how email has helped your organisation, in the comments below.