I subscribe to many charity emails and we, charity people, are all very good at designing beautiful emails; as are Waitrose and John Lewis. In the past five to eight years most of us have mastered the art of good headers and footers with added personalisation; as have Argos and Amazon.
A few weeks ago, I had a meeting with a charity not too big in terms of income and resources but ambitious and eager to develop their online fundraising activity. They asked me how many email templates they should use. My reply: zero. I advised them to go back to text only. I truly believe donors won’t be upset if the email they receive doesn’t have a template. Of course if you are receiving an email from a large charity like CRUK or Oxfam, you'd expect a fully branded email. But from a small charity? Maybe not. First of all, all email programmes nowadays remove images. I rarely bother downloading pictures contained in emails. There goes your opening rate and another unreliable Key Performance Indicator (KPI) to sort out. I bet many charity supporters are like me. But also, do you really think there are people naive enough to believe you're sending this email just to them? They and I know that Cecilia, in the donors/events/marketing team, didn’t write “Dear Bertie,” at the start of the email she sent me. Having said that, it’s still better than the “Dear #PositiveTargetFirstNameField,” which I received a few weeks ago…
I'd love to receive an email like this:
This year we have more Marathon runners than ever in the [insert your charity] team.
I hope you're training is going well. If you haven’t done it yet, you should join our Facebook group (insert link). You may find training partners.
If you need help email me!
PS. Dont forget fundraising is part of the training programme!
A simple email, which take 5 minutes to write. It doesn’t need a web team to design it. Perhaps it should have been
checked by another member of the team to avoid the small typo but that makes it more human.
I’d be interested to hear from a charity willing to experiment with that and report back on successes or otherwise—I wouldn’t mind being proven wrong.