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I raised over $800,000 for charitable and political causes over email in 2022, and here’s what I learned

by | Dec 13, 2022 | Movement Building, Nonprofits

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Through email list management consulting this past year, I’ve cumulatively raised over $830,000 in online donations from the more than 900 email blasts I sent out for clients, collectively getting over 75 million opens.*

Here are some brief takeaways in an ever-changing landscape that were either newly learned or are still true from when I started online organizing in the Oughts. Use them as you will.

  • While you’re busy thinking about your deadline at work and how the kid has that expensive appointment at the orthodontist looming, do you ever stop and wonder if some Senate campaign or worthy cause might need an extra $5 just at that moment? Friend, you do not. Neither do I. If no one asked us, we’d never give.
  • Our biggest motivators for giving are still, inevitably, either impending doom or impending deadlines, otherwise … the orthodontist bill awaits.
  • We usually have to be asked to give money many times before we’ll do it, even if we like the cause and we really, truly intend to do it.
  • We want certain political outcomes, and these outcomes are expensive to engineer because ‘free’ is always an illusion. Nothing is free, not even volunteer hours, which always have to be managed by someone who’s responsible for planning and directing that work.
  • The people who endlessly complain about political emails usually aren’t the same people who have to pay for the campaigns whose outcomes they say they want.
  • The kind of fundraising email that keeps ending up in your inbox probably won a popular vote in the form of cash on hand, and that’s why you got it. People willing to support that cause voted for that kind of email with their dollars. There’s no other reason.
  • Every business needs leads.
  • The per capita demand for political and charitable services is several orders of magnitude lower than demand for consumer products, requiring a much larger lead-generation pipeline. In other words, a business owner can potentially pull in a million dollars or more per year from a consumer products or services sales lead email list of 7,000-10,000 people, while in most cases a political warm lead list needs to be in the high hundreds of thousands before it can hope to bring in that kind of money from high-volume, direct online solicitation.
  • Do you run an email list, and then someone on your list has never opened an email since signing up, or not opened anything in 60 days? Do one re-engagement send to that group, and bounce them from the list if they don’t open. It only hurts your ego to see the numbers go down, but it will boost both engagement rates and service providers’ estimate of the quality of your mailings to stop sending them email forever. Or until they sign up again, maybe.

* All figures are deliberately vague undercounts, rounded down.