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Episode Info: so he asks them to look in the spam folder. Most of the time they find it there. So what does he tell them so future emails don’t get caught in the spam folder anymore? How to avoid the spam folder again? Whitelisting! Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, that’s kind of an interesting question. Of course, it depends on the level of technology knowledge, but most email programs like AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, they have a way to, if something arrives in the spam folder, to highlight it and then click on a button or click on a link to say, “This is not spam.” With that measurement, they actually tell the program, “You were wrong. This is not spam.” Each email client behaves a little bit differently or has a different method. Then there are methods by internet service providers that they give you a method to whitelist some email addresses because they have another layout to secure their own servers. They have spam assessing running that has multiple markers what is considered spam. To make a long story short, we have in the show notes a link to a page where there are instructions for each of the email clients on how to whitelist an email address so it does not continue … land in the spam folder. On the sender side, of course, you need to make sure that whatever email marketing program you use also is recognized as coming from your domain. There are certain instructions that you can give to your web developer or to your IT person to set up the DNS accordingly, so it allows them to be recognized as an allowed sender, so to speak. How can I share my blog posts with my donors? Jim O’Reilley: Another question that we get is how can I share my blog posts with my donors? We actually have two different answers for you on this one. Birgit Pauli-Haack: This non-profit who asked there was saying, “I write a blog post, but I don’t want to spend another time to then put it in an email and create an email again from that. That’s duplicate content. Is it possible to hook my blog up to an email client that does that automatically?” There is. One of the features of a full-blown blog is that they have an RSS feed. RSS means “Real Simple Syndication”, and it’s a machine-readable content of your blog, so it takes the headline, it takes the publication date, it takes the featured image, and a teaser from your blog, or even the full blog post, and puts it in an email and sends it out. The email marketing provider can do this automatically. Every time something is posted new on the blog, it will send out the notification. It could be via MailChimp or, if you’re on WordPress, that’s also a feature from WordPress that it can send out a notification. But Jim also had another idea, too, how to do that. Jim O’Reilley: One of the things that I think is very effective, and it takes a little bit of skill because you have to have a list of donors where this makes sense, is that you segment your donors into areas in which they have a specific interest, and then when you’re going to publish a blog that you know is about their specific interest, you do send an email to that group of donors, letting them know that on your blog you’ve published something that they should be interested in, and here’s a link. In that way, you are making them know that you’re aware of what their interest is, you are catering to that interest, and you’re making sure that they know that you’re doing something in their area of interest. So I think that’s a very effective way to do that also. Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, I think so too. How to Thank Your Donors? Jim O’Reilley: When we started, we talked about making your donors heroes, or thinking of your donors as your heroes for your organization. One way to do that is to thank them. Whenever you say “thank them,” somebody says, “Well, how do I do that? What are the different ways to do that?” Classy, whom you’ve heard us quote about many times, actually, has recently come out with something, and there’s a link again in the show notes, about 15 creative ways to thank donors. We’re not going to read all 15 to you, so don’t get up and leave right now, but what we are going to do is tell you a little bit about the ones that we think are most important. The first one, which I’ll grab, is that your website is a perfect place to show appreciation. Website appreciation is number one on their list. You can appeal to both one-time donors and recurring donors, but posting something on your website that lets them know that you appreciate their time and effort is a very effective way to do it. Birgit Pauli-Haack:  A second way would be to think of a welcome package for your donors that educate them on your organization. Classy actually has not only talks about mailing a welcome package, but it seems to be thinking about an actually tangible one that is a thank you letter and it has some photographs, has a survey, a small gift or a bookmark. It’s just a little package that they find in the mail. I really like that, but it also can be quite costly, and depending on the budget of that organization, it might be a little bit too much, or depending on your staffing, do you have staffing to do this? What goes into an Email Welcome Series? Another way, and that is to create an email welcome series. As soon as the donation gets in, you schedule a series of emails one week apart to educate them also on the organization. When we talked about it with non-profit organizations, we had the question, “If I wanted to create a welcome series, I wouldn’t know what to write about.” We asked others what are the ideas that you could come up with, and here are a few suggestions. Gather two or three facts about the organization and make a “Did you know?” opening in one email. Another email to introduce the new donor to some of the people and supporters of the organization, along with links to stories and testimonials. So they say this is who you work together with to make an impact in the community. Another idea would be snippets from the annual report. That will be not kind of the whole annual report, which is maybe too boring for that as a whole, but if you have some infographics that you put into the annual report, putting them in an email might not be a bad idea. Then if you have any plans for a specific program in the near future, and especially it might be really … think about if there are events in the near future that you already sent emails to other donors, but because that person is new hasn’t gotten that information, but might be actually … wanted to come. So include that. You mentioned John Haydon, and he has a suggestion of three messages. One is to welcome the new donor and reinforce their decision to give. The second message says to update the donor on the impact and ask for feedback, a quick survey of whatever you need to know from your donor. And then the message three would invite the donor to give again, second ask, or upgrade to a monthly donor. Those are very goal-oriented messages. You have quite a set of suggestions here on what a welcome series could look like. Thank-you Letters via your Donor Management System Jim O’Reilley: The next thing, which sounds obvious to you, is a thank you letter. The important thing about a thank you letter is that the longer it takes before you send it out, the less sincere it sounds. Nonprofit Hub recommends sending out a thank you letter within two days, which we think is a great idea. Birgit Pauli-Haack:  Yes, absolutely. If you set up your donor management systems to do that, then it could actually … so every day you collect the thank-you notes you want to send out from your donor management system, and just print them and put them in an envelope. That is definitely a process-heavy thing … not heavy, but you really need to look through the process on how you organize it in your office. Handwritten-Notes can not be shared! Jim O’Reilley: The next category is kind of interesting because this is one where I will take the responsibility to say I disagree with what Classy’s putting out because the category is handwritten notes. What they’re saying is that there are some ideal times to send a handwritten note: upon a second donation, when they attend an event, on the anniversary of their first donation, around the holiday season, etc. The reason I take issue with it is I think one of the opportunities that we have, and one of the things that we can actually do for our donors, is to make … not make them, but let them see that something can be just as personal in an email that is correctly put together in the sense that it’s personal, that it tells you that you know who they are and that it’s not just email number 47 in our continuing series. And I think that will have a longer-term effect. Among other reasons, it’s easy for them to share it. They can say, “Look what I just got,” and they can send it to cousins, uncles, neighbors, friends, whereas a handwritten note is going to be folded up and put in a file and fondly thought of forever, and probably never read again. But that’s me. Resolve Complaints quickly You have a responsibility in the next category to resolve complaints quickly, within 24 hours. If you don’t know how, or you’re not aware of the entire situation and you have to learn more before you can do a response, if you just respond saying, “Thank you for making me aware of it. I’m working on it. I will update my response as soon as I learn more about it and can answer you more personally.” If you do that, your donors are going to feel like you’ve got a personal connection with them, you’re listening to them, and that you will respond to them at the appropriate time. I just think that’s a good thing to do. Celebrate Donor Anniversaries Birgit Pauli-Haack: So the next thing is anniversary cards, being the cards … could be emailed, doesn’t have to be handwritten … but send a personalized anniversary. Recognize that the donor loyalty year after year, after their first donation, is something you are aware of, you are very grateful for, and you have made the chairman of the board and the executive director are noticing that. It can be any anniversary that you put in there: the first year, the fifth year, the 10th year, the 15th year, or 20th year. Make sure that your donor management system is set up to notify you for those anniversaries, and develop a process in your organization. Public Recognition on Social Media: Wait for the donor to make the first step Jim O’Reilley: The next category that they use is called “social media,” which is obvious, thinking of things like Facebook and Twitter, and I think this is one where we’ve got to be really kind of careful, because there are some people who would not want you to necessarily publish, “Thank you for your donation of $500 to this fund.” But instead, perhaps the social media shout-out, as they refer to it, is more likely to be successful if it recognizes “In response to our recent campaign, our donors have provided us with funds with which we can do the following …” That answers a couple of things. One, it tells the world in general what you’re doing with the money. It is thanking the people that responded to the campaign, and it’s letting them know that other people donated also. To me, that’s more powerful and less risky than doing a shout-out to an individual. Birgit Pauli-Haack:  Yeah, I whole-heartedly agree. The shout-out should come … the first step should come from the donor, that “Oh, I was so happy to give something.” Then on a post that you talk about that, like the post-Jim mentioned, what you do with the money, and then a donor outs herself on the post. Then the thank you definitely needs to happen; otherwise, that goodwill goes away very, very quickly. But yes, be careful not to out your donors against their will, or if you don’t know, rather not do it. Jim O’Reilley: There’s the whole subject of phone calls, physically calling someone on the phone to thank them. I think this falls into several categories, and it’s going to depend on the size and the organizational structure that you’re dealing with. If you’re a small organization, then perhaps the best way to think about this is for your major donors, perhaps a monthly phone call is well worth your time and it is well received by them. If it’s something for a specific activity, perhaps the event chairman for that activity can call and thank the donors personally 30 days or 60 days after the event and say it was really successful. Let me tell you what happened, and here’s what we did with the money. But a phone call can be a time consumer, especially if you don’t get through and you feel like you have to call back, but it’s something that can be very effective for establishing a personal relationship. I hope the point we’ve made is that saying thank you is a necessity. Fundraising really comes down to two categories, new donors, and existing donors, and you really need to keep donors coming back. As we’ve said in prior podcasts, repetition of donors is actually the key to your success in any of your fundraising, so you need to make sure that your plan includes them and you treat them well, and hopefully, they will be your donors for years to come. And I think that’s all I have to say today about this. Birgit Pauli-Haack:  And you did very well. Jim O’Reilley: Thank you very much for spending some time with us. We apologize for the break. There was this thing called Irma that happened here in Southwest Florida, and we were shut down for a couple of weeks, but we’re hopefully back in gear and that you’ve missed us terribly. Anyway, thank you for listening. Birgit Pauli-Haack: All I have to say is get you to the show notes. That is on This is the episode number 22. We are always grateful for your input and your opinion, so leave your comments or send an email to and we will answer them, maybe on the next podcast, or we write you back in an email. If you listen on iTunes to these podcasts, please leave a review. It helps us to get people to know about this. That’s it for now from me. Thank you very much for listening. Goodbye. Jim O’Reilley: Goodbye, everybody. .........
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