Non-profits have the hardest job of all: they have to get people to care and act altruistically. In an era of instant gratification and self-glorification, this seems almost impossible. Yet, this is where non-profits have an edge over other industries. A non-profit’s life blood is on brand and message building, which is where email campaigns are gold. While other industries struggle with getting an opportunity to really communicate with their audience, your entire industry is built on communication. The question is, are you communicating effectively and are you leveraging the best asset you have to your advantage?

The best asset you have is email campaigns because ultimately to get people to pay attention you need one-on-one time free from distractions. That is exactly what an email is all about: one-on-one time.

Challenge: Connecting with Next Generation Donors

Even though your job is communication, remember that this doesn’t mean boring people with long lectures and data. No one has time for that. If you’ve got an older crowd you’re catering to, keep the content short and sweet. But if you’re dealing with Millennials or the next generation of donors, then you’ve got to keep it even briefer. Younger crowds prefer punctuated data, visuals, illustrations, video. For your email campaigns, that means fewer words, more action. Make it beautiful, make it engaging, and make it clear to them on how they should act. Remember that next generation donors are heavy social media users, so make it easy for them to social share as well. This is another reason multimedia works well for them; it makes it easier to share than just copy alone.

Challenge: No One’s Listens to a Panhandler

The kiss of death for a non-profit is to ask for money. Nobody wants to be around a panhandler. This is an important – very important – thing to know. Nonprofits that are most successful are those who make it easy for patrons to stay informed and stay social through that cause. A philanthropy group that treats itself like an exclusive club (that anyone can be a part of) is going to be far more successful than one that is always asking for money. This means that when you ask for money, those moments become events to rally around. It also means that when you do get around to asking for money, you’re not working in a state of negative attention – having lost everyone’s attention through frequent begs. A great way to go about creating moments of generosity is to have a Giving Day or to have a year-end campaign strategy that employs a few strategies leading up to a holiday season of giving. Keep in mind that though these are punctuated events, the planning is anything but punctuated. Planning for a giving day (and especially a year-end campaign) needs to happen months in advance. This includes creating a schedule, getting assets ready to go.

However, all these ideas are only as good as the number of people who’ve subscribed to your email list. So make sure you’ve given people every opportunity to subscribe to your list. This means getting a sign-up widget up on social media, a pop-up on your website, clear calls to action on your website, and even using social media posts to regularly encourage signing up.