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Holiday Email Tactics for Nonprofits

by Winston Bowden  |  
October 28, 2008

It's time to start planning for the holidays. Retailers have been aggressively planning their marketing strategies for months. In these stressful economic times, it is more important than ever to build messages that resonate with your audience. Like retailers, nonprofits should be thinking about how they can tell their story and leverage the holiday season.

In this article, we'll discuss some techniques that nonprofits can use to bolster revenue and solicit support from members through email and online tactics.

Gift a Membership

Most nonprofits have a devoted fan base, and many of their members spend time with friends with similar interests. These friends might be excellent member prospects for your organization. The trick is to offer your members a simple way to buy gifted memberships.

The most economical solution is to do so via your Web site—and marketed through an email marketing campaign.

The first step is to setup some kind of payment system. If you're a small nonprofit, you may not have an advanced CRM or e-commerce solution that allows you to create a seamless payment process. That's okay. There are plenty of inexpensive solutions that will handle this for you.

One of the industry leaders is PayPal, which allows you to add a secure button on your Web site to direct users to PayPal's secure server for processing. The transaction occurs on their side, providing security and safety. There's no upfront fee—you pay a small percentage of each transaction.

How does email marketing play a role in this scenario? There's no better way to market an online offer than on your Web site and through your targeted contact list. Ensure that members are aware of the offer, and make it attractive. Don't dump ten paragraphs of text in your email campaign manager and hit send—you'll be disappointed by the results. Find a good designer to create an email-friendly offer that will engage your audience.

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Winston Bowden is marketing and sales manager at Durham-based Contactology ( Reach him via

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