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How to Get the Most out of the Email Fundraising Online Course

Published by Nathan Hill

You’re busy. I’m busy. Everyone you work with is busy (or at least I hope so).

Even if your job title has “Email Fundraising” or “Email Marketing” in it, training like this online course is normally the first thing to get pushed to the back burner.

That being said, this course is essential if you want to see your email fundraising results grow. So how do you find the time for something so essential? You have to make time.

Below, I’ve outline 4 tips that will help you make time for the course, get the most out of each session, and apply the learnings to your own email fundraising.

Let’s go.

1. Schedule your time.

Since training is often pushed to the backburner, the only way to make sure you have the time for it is to schedule it. Now, there are 6 total sessions in this course. And they’re designed to be taken in order.

You can try to go through them daily, every other day, or weekly. I wouldn’t recommend spacing the sessions any further apart then 1 week, or else you’ll start to forget how each session ties together.

Here is a calendar with a recommended schedule for taking the course. You can do the whole thing in one month if you follow this schedule. And, this schedule builds in specific time for you to brainstorm and try your hand at applying some of the key concepts.

Recommended Course Calendar

2. Take notes.

For most people, just listening to a lesson, talk, or lecture isn’t enough to ensure that you’ll retain the information. But the simple act of writing down key points that stand out to you can make a world of difference when you go to apply or share what you’ve learned.

And if you’re like me, it’s even better if you write it down with pen and paper.

Now, I understand you may completely ignore this idea since you can just go back and reference the videos. But the videos won’t have the lightbulb ideas that come to you during the middle of Jon’s explanation of how to write better email subject lines.

So more than anything, write down all of your ideas for your own fundraising. If you follow the schedule above, you’ll come back to those ideas later on.

3. Make time to apply what you’ve learned.

The easiest mistake to make in taking this course would be to listen to each session and never make any changes to your actual fundraising emails. As noted in the schedule above, you should make the time to sit down with your notes and ideas, and actually apply them.

Some of the key areas you’ll want to make time to really work on are your value proposition, email acquisition, email copy, and your landing page. Here are some tips on how to put your new-found email wisdom to work:

Value Proposition

After session 2, schedule 30 minutes to sit down and write out your answers to these 3 questions:

  • Why would your ideal donor be interested in supporting your cause?
  • Why would your ideal donor support your cause, rather than another organization doing something similar?
  • Why should your ideal donor trust your claims?

Get all of your ideas out, and synthesize them into a one to two sentence statement answering the fundamental question “Why should I give to you, rather than to some other organization, or not at all?”

After you’ve done all this, have a colleague or two read your statement through to make sure it’s clear. Remember, you don’t always have to be persuasive, you just have to clear.

Email Acquisition Ideas

This one is simple. After session 2, schedule 30 minutes to browse through some of the highest traffic pages on your website. Come up with 3 or 4 ideas that you can test to try and get more people who visit that page to sign up for your email list.

Writing an Email Appeal

After completing session 5, schedule 1 hour to sit down and write an email appeal based on everything you’ve learned. After you’ve written your appeal, have a colleague read it out loud.

Ask yourself…

  • Would a real person actually say these things?
  • Are my value claims clear and accurate?
  • Can another organization make the same value claims, or are they exclusive to our organization?

Email Landing Page

After you’ve completed session six, download the Campaign Donation Page template and print it out. Then, schedule 30 minutes to come up with 2 elements on your email landing page that you can realistically change based on what you’ve learned.

And don’t just blindly make changes. Use a tool like Google Optimize to run a test. That way, you’ll know exactly what effects your changes are having on your donations.

4. Share what you’ve learned with others involved in your fundraising program.

If what you’ve learned from the course only stays in your head, you’ll only be able to grow your fundraising so much. But if you can share what you’ve learned and develop a culture of optimization at your organization, the opportunity for fundraising growth is endless.

So before you even begin the course, schedule 30 minutes to an hour with your colleagues 5 weeks from today. Use that time to share your biggest takeaways with them. Show them your email acquisition ideas, your newly written email appeal, and your plans to improve your donation page. It’s only with their buy-in and support that you’ll really be able to get things done and see major growth.

Get email reminders to keep you on track

(This is Jon. He wants to help.)

Staying on track with these types of courses can be hard if you don’t have someone to encourage you. Luckily, Jon Powell (the guy in all the videos) has volunteered to help.

If you opt-in below, Jon will send you an email twice per week for 5 weeks letting you know which session or activity you should be working on that day. You can respond directly to him at any point to ask questions, discuss ideas, and get additional insights on how to apply the lessons to your email campaigns.

Do you want Jon to help you stay on track? Just verify which email address you’d like to get reminders at using the form below.

Published by Nathan Hill

Nathan Hill is Vice President, NextAfter Institute.