Friday, November 2, 2007

Stay Relevant

The PlannedGiving.com Web site recently published a very insightful -- and graciously brief -- article on the problems of inundating your supporters with irrelevant emails:

Using e-Marketing or “Spam” to Promote Planned Giving? Think Again.

On a somewhat related note, my friends at Sagax Media offer some simple but strong advice on their recent blog, "Update your site."

If you have your own website, make sure you're updating it often. Not only are you providing more information for potential customers, but you're also telling the search engines that your site is becoming more useful. The search engine spiders see an active site and they see someone that's trying to be helpful to site visitors, and they'll reward that effort with higher search rankings.
Spiders are an essential part of search engine rankings. I had never realized that the recency of page updates factored into their rankings -- it would be good practice to regularly review and update every page on your site. Even if your changing a few words or one picture, it will reflect as an updated site.

Similarly, some other things that you should do:
  • Change the front page of your Web site each month, or at least have some dynamic content that will show different images each time a visitors comes to your site. You want your visitors to have a reason to come back to your site and to click around. Even if the secondary pages are the same, they have a better chance of being reached if visitors have a reason to feel that there is new information on your site. For an example, visit this site and hit refresh a few times; the main picture should change each time through a simple script embedded in the page.
  • Update your receipt letters as often as possible; at the very least, have a paragraph that you update quarterly that describes what's happened over the past few months. This will ensure that your most valuable donors -- those who give multiple times a year -- remain interested in everything that you send them. If they begin to tune you out, you're on a downward slide that is hard to reverse.
  • Update your grant templates at least annually: set aside time at the beginning of the year to find the latest versions of the research/statistics that you cite in your proposal so that you have the most up-to-date information possible. This is especially the case if you apply to the foundation multiple years in a row.
Staying relevant is key to staying top-of-mind with your donors. As we approach the end of the year, and all of your donors are getting buried in appeals for support, you want to stand out as the first organization that they think of when it comes to end-of-year charitable gift planning.