Getting the Word Out

by Kevin Martone, Technology Program Manager, JCamp 180

Okay, so you've done a great job amassing a list of your constituents. For a camp, this means alumni, parents, grandparents, donors, staff, etc. You have updated contact information - including email address - and want to reconnect with all of these people who have a history with and/or interest in your organization. What's next? Communication.

Nonprofit organizations have a story to tell. Camps can talk about the incredible programs they offer, the lifelong friendships (and even marriages) they have developed, and the memories of campers since the beginning of the camp. They can also share information about the personal stories about current campers. Of course, it is also important to let your constituents know how you are utilizing the time and wealth they have given in the past to help the organization continue to offer memorable, important services.

Most camps and organizations probably already use a standard Newsletter to communicate. Wild Apricot's Non-Profit Technology blog has recently posted some great information about using email newsletter services (like Constant Contact) to send email, including eNewsletters out to your constituents.

We use Constant Contact for our eNewsletter. The most important features of tools like this for us include:

  • Ensuring the message gets through. If you bcc your entire email list through Outlook or Yahoo or other email system, there is a good chance your recipients will never see the emails; their email provider will mark the message as spam. Email newsletter services work hard to ensure your message reaches its target.
  • Tracking. Tools like Constant Contact let you track who opens your emails, what they clicked on in the email, who opted out, and which email addresses are no longer active. This information will help you keep your contact lists up to date and also ensure you are providing the information most helpful to your constituents…and not bombarding people who ask not to receive the eNewsletters with extra emails.
  • Branding. These tools allow you to set up templates with your nonprofit's branding and a variety of color schemes. They also allow easy inclusion of pictures to draw the recipients in to your message.
  • Automatic signup. These tools also offer simple code that you can add to your website or blog for new people to sign up for future eNewsletters and emails.

Are you using an email newsletter service? Which one? Any tips or comments about your service? What works best/what doesn't work?