It’s helpful to look at the big email picture from time to time — across a span of time and an entire segment of our nonprofit industry — to gain a perspective of what’s working, and what standard behavior looks like.
Way back in 2010, Amergent made gifts to 33 cancer centers around the United States, using a newly invented email address. We made online gifts of $25, and sent $20 checks in the same donor’s name. We documented the donor experience, and since then, we’ve been tracking what each of these institutions have sent us, both online and in the mail.
It’s time to look at the first ten months of 2014, and report on what we’ve found, and what we like. An update report in January will provide a view of year-end 2014 e-communications, which we hope will be more intense than the pattern we witnessed so far.
It appears that 2014 is little different from 2011. Many of the cancer centers sent us about the same number of emails this year that they did for the same period in the 12 months right after our gift. Some have still not started to use email as a means of communicating with donors… even those who give online!
Of the 33 institutions to whom we made gifts, eleven (exactly one-third) sent us not a single email all year. These institutions have sent us virtually no email since our gift (one, a household name institution, didn’t even send us a thank-you email to acknowledge our gift!).
Of those who “bothered” to send us any, another third (10) sent us about one a month – barely enough so we don’t forget about them, but at least they’re in the game. Only six cancer centers sent us two or more per month. The runaway leader is Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who has been in the forefront of digital communications among cancer centers since our first gift in 2010. Between “The Jimmy Fund”, DFCI and its many events, we received 107 email messages between New Year’s Day and Halloween – almost three per week!
Over the next few days, I’ll be presenting further analysis of these 418 email messages, including highlights of the most inspiring messages and best subject lines. If you work for a cancer center, contact me so we can discuss your organization’s messages in detail, privately.