Fundraising is a crucial part of any campaign, and in an ever-changing world, staying up-to-date with effective trends in donor engagement is a must. Earlier this week, Whitney Fahmi (Campaign Solutions) moderated a riveting discussion with fundraising gurus, Eve Samborn McCool (Revolution Messaging), Kate Faherty (Campaign Inbox), and Sara Kiesler (Mandate Media) as they discussed how the flow of money has changed over the years and shared best practices for running an effective email marketing and fundraising program.
1. Strong writing and a good story are key elements in email marketing today. Emails need to be authentic and share a specific narrative for a candidate, so that supporters feel a meaningful connection to the campaign.
2. You need to figure out the unique aspects of what your campaign and candidate can offer donors since you are essentially competing with same party candidates for donor money.
3. Make sure to take advantage of ‘big moments” during your campaign. You want to have emails ready to send and a strong approval process that allows you to adapt quickly to the political climate.
4. Integrate offline campaigning with online campaigning and donations. Collect supporter’s info during campaign canvassing and add to your email lists for further contact.
5. Use social media to grow your initial email list and to find your supporters. Focus on Facebook and Twitter, as these are the most important avenues for small and large campaigns alike. Ultimately, it is hard to raise money through social media. Use emails for your call to action or donation requests.
About Eve: Eve Samborn McCool is an experienced digital strategist who has raised millions of dollars for winning campaigns. She is a Senior Strategist at Revolution Messaging, a full-service digital agency for progressive causes known for its work helping Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign achieve record-breaking grassroots fundraising and young voter support. She currently works with Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Senator Dick Durbin.
1. Inbox placement and deliverability is extremely important and is now at the forefront of email marketing. The Trump campaign moved from 38% to 90% deliverability in a few months, which made a huge difference.
2. The biggest challenge faced when emailing a list of supporters is to make sure you include relevant information that will ultimately make someone donate to your cause. Supporters want to feel like they are hearing from real people, rather than a computer generated message.
3. You want to think of the end goal for a campaign/candidate before you start your email marketing and fundraising campaign. Often the goal is conversion, but make sure to discuss that first.
4. The key in smaller races is to focus on consistency. Send updates fairly often with relevant content to maintain a loyal following which will help build your list in the future.
5. Often times, social media buttons take away from your message, so you want to be selective here. Supporters might click these buttons instead of your donate button. Keep in mind, you might not always need to add them to every email you send.
About Kate: Kate Faherty is the COO of Campaign Inbox, an email marketing company focused on fundraising and activism. Kate’s approach to email is to discover innovative growth marketing solutions to the problems that political campaigns, committees, organizations and publications face when raising money, turning out voters and activating online audiences.
1. Consider using ActBlue, a non-profit that runs a fundraising platform for progressive candidates across the country. They have seen a 300% increase in donations—astronomical with 1 click options.
2. You want to connect with supporters before asking for money—send some other emails first before the donation ask.
3. Gather emails and zip codes at every event you have and designate someone to constantly update this list.
4. Own up to any mistakes in an email you send out—directly connect with donors that donated in that email to let them know of the error. You don’t want people to lose hope in your campaign and platform if you misspell the candidate’s name.
5. The button is the last thing someone sees before donating in an email. You may want to switch it up from just “donate” to “I want to contribute” or “I believe in (candidate name).”
About Sara: Sara Kiesler is a Senior Strategist at Mandate Media, where she leads the digital and writing team for Mandate’s campaign and nonprofit clients, developing strategies and producing content that maximizes engagement and fundraising. Originally from Indiana, the former journalist has spent 8 years working in Seattle, where she has managed digital for Fuse Washington, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, and more.
1. Make sure your personalization is spot on when using in any email. People want to think that you know who they are, and will be extremely disappointed if their name is incorrect in a personalized email.
2. Keep tabs on your competitors—sign up for their emails to make sure you know their tactics and ideas as well.
3. Social media is a wonderful and cost effective way to get your message out there. It might be overwhelming at first, but ultimately it is an important tool for your campaign fundraising.
4. List swaps are a great way to reach new supporters. Consider swapping with like-minded candidates or campaigns, so that your supporters might actually benefit from receiving these other emails.
5. Spellcheck—one of the most underrated, yet important aspects of any email marketing campaign!
About Whitney: Whitney Fahmi joined Campaign Solutions in January 2011 as a fundraising account executive. Since joining the team she has helped Campaign Solutions’ clients raise millions of dollars, including leading the online fundraising efforts for Michele Bachmann, raising over nine and a half million online.
A huge thank you to our speakers for sharing their expertise with the AAPC membership!