When you send a fundraising email and no one responds.

We’ve all been there. It’s the end of the quarter and you’re in the midst of your last digital hurrah before the books close. Your copy is sharp, your template sharper, you give your email one last look over and you send that fundraising e-blast out to your base.

An hour goes by and no opens.

Two hours, a few opens but no clicks.

A day goes by, a few clicks but no donations.

Two days go by, and your organization is nowhere closer to it’s fundraising goal.

You think to yourself, “What happened?”

Whether on a campaign or a non-profit board, we’ve all experienced what could only be described as fundraising whiplash. Online fundraising can often feel more like art than science, but here are three things you can do right now to improve your online fundraising program.

1.) Target your ask — aka the end of the “send all” era.

It’s taken months if not years to build your email list, these are the folks you know care about your cause, shouldn’t they all just get the same message? The answer is not really. The gold standard of donor list building should always be, “Would I ask the same thing of my supporter offline?” If you had a gala a few days ago and a donor made a $500 contribution and you saw them just a few days later, would you ask the donor for another contribution? (the answer is probably not)

The same applies to your email program. Treat your supporters just like you would in real life — different people should get different asks.

How a message is received, is largely dependent on its audience.

Aside from contribution history, think of ways in which you can use data like donor location, and past engagement to further segment and target your lists.

2.) Personalize your ask.

Once you’ve targeted your audience you’ll need to tailor your message. Your supporters are all very different people — which means the way in which they interact and support your organization will also be different. Some of your supporters are occasional donors, others are sustaining members. Some of them donated at your fundraiser last week others donated at your fundraiser 3 years ago.

The point is that your donors all fit into different categories, and they should all receive an ask that is as personal as possible.

Be creative — think of ways in which you can acknowledge past involvement for long time supporters and as much as possible showcase how donations are being utilized in supporter communities.

3.) A/B testing is your friend.

Said another way, testing makes perfect. A/B testing allows you to measure the performance of emails based on criteria such as subject line, sender, content and even send time. There are a number of email tools that allow you to A/B test, so do some test-driving and find the best tool for your needs and price point.

A/B Testing tools in NationBuilder.

Testing for content performance will give you unique insight into what messaging works best for your supporters. Use this information to iterate content and keep testing new ideas. This small shift in your email program can do amazing things for donor conversion rates and fundraising growth. If you’re skeptical, just check out how A/B testing helped President Obama raise $690 million in 2012.

Thanks for reading, feel free to share with organizations or campaigns looking to sharpen their online fundraising efforts or just press the💙 button. And if you’d like to learn more about digital fundraising or community building drop me a tweet or a note at vsuarez@nationbuilder.com.

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