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The Loyalty Letter

E-news that helps you keep donors connected (and giving)
to your cause.

April 2009
Published by Lisa Sargent


If you've discovered The Loyalty Letter as a result of my thank you letter clinic on SOFII, welcome!
And if you've never heard of SOFII, you're in for a treat. I share details below.  
Also below, trigger-based emails. As social media steals the spotlight, trigger emails remain an underused tool for connecting with your online donors.
But first, to all who sent thank you letters for me to edit through SOFII, from Minnesota to Tasmania and everywhere in between: thank you, from the heart.
You made the clinic a real success... and gave me a wonderful glimpse at the work you do to make our world a nicer place.
Until next month,

Lisa Sargent
Sargent Communications

The Better Thank You Letter, ‘Live’ on SOFII!

Wish you could see how other nonprofits thank their donors?
Now you can...

As of April 1st, you can access the thank you letter clinic I've been hosting over at the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration, or SOFII.

Now launched 'live', the clinic is an online showcase of seven (and counting!) before-and-after donation thank you letter samples from fabulous nonprofits around the world.

Each 'before' version is fully annotated so you can see where each letter can be improved, and why. And in the 'after' versions, you'll learn why I rewrote the letter the way I did. There's also an article and checklist to guide you through the writing process, start to finish.

But you'll want to see more than my thank you letter clinic. Managed by Ken Burnett -- UK fundraiser, author and man of perpetual patience — SOFII is a first-class ticket to fundraiser's paradise.

There, you'll find real-life fundraising samples, how-to articles and insights from top thinkers of the nonprofit world. Good stuff, all of it.

To receive updates and access every fundraising treasure on SOFII, you need to register. There's no charge, they don't badger you with emails, and more than 5,000 smart fundraisers around the world are already signed. Why not join the fun?

Want a preview? Click Lisa's thank you letter clinic.

By the way, we aren't taking new donor thank you letter samples right now. But it was such fun, we're already talking about another. So stay tuned!
Trigger E-mails: Are You Missing Them?

How to take advantage of an underused opportunity to
delight your donors.

Last Christmas, Jane responded to your holiday e-appeal and preserved an acre of rainforest in honor of each of her nieces and nephews. So when the season rolls around again, how can you make it easy for Jane to give?

Trigger-based, or trigger, e-mails.

Think of them as automatic messages delivered at just the right time. Jane, for example, receives a message around the time she made her gift last year that says something like: "Last year, you chose to protect an acre of rainforest for [recipient names]... and it's really making a difference. If you'd like to honor the special people in your life again this year, click here."

I've oversimplified, but you get the picture.

And Web 2.0 tech-heads, take note: trigger emails are not old hat. Silverpop's Loren McDonald said in a blog post on 3/30/09, "...the birthday e-mail, the anniversary reminder and similar e-mail messages could help keep e-mail relevant and alive as a marketing channel."

Still worry that e-mail's dead? I'll share more on this in the coming months, but for now, consider this: last year alone, Convio clients raised nearly half a billion dollars online. (US$777 million, to be precise.) Think triggers.

So what do you need to make them work?

  1. Permission: if you don't have it, it's called spam.
  2. Quality content: make sure it's engaging, and follow good e-mail copywriting guidelines (short subject lines, sans serif font, that kind of thing)
  3. Deliverability: use a reliable e-mail provider
  4. Relevancy: like all your donor communications, you need a (good) reason to write

And speaking of reasons to write, here are 3:

  1. Events: anniversary of becoming a member, anniversary of making a gift for someone else, natural disaster or other call for help, etc.
  2. Donor's special interests: medical research breakthrough, pet care tips, sponsor-child update
  3. Action-driven: I sign up for your e-news, you welcome me. Jane gives, you send a thank you. (One rule of thumb is to reply via the same medium. So if Jane gives online, send an e-thank.)

Remember, quality trigger-based e-mails can be a great way to deepen your relationships with donors, boost relevancy and create urgency. Just make sure that you combine them with solid testing, so you can learn from -- and react quickly to -- results.

Have a question? Just ask:

Ready to put some pep in your donor communications?
Give me a call at +001 (860) 881-7009.

Half a world away? Use Skype: lisa.sargent96.

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Food for thought:

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