The book is written for and about nonprofits though it will be of interest to a wider range of institutions interested in online fundraising such as universities, hospitals, faith-based groups, and political campaigns.
There are several things about this book that make it a standout among recent efforts to cover this topic.
First, it deals unabashedly with what was once the most controversial aspect of online fundraising, namely email appeals. As recently as a few years ago, email fundraising appeals were seen as a type of nonprofit spam, even when supporters and list subscribers had opted in to receive communications. Several pioneering organizations have turned this on its head, and Madeline chronicles the experiences of nonprofits such as Human Rights Campaign, Humane Society of the United States, and Earthjustice, who have used passion, good writing, creative design and opportune timing to conduct successful financial appeals from supporters via email.
Second, Madeline writes as an insider about many email fundraising campaigns that she has personally worked on. Madeline is the President of Donordigital, one the leading firms that helps U.S. charities raise money online and mobilize constituents for progressive causes. Considering her day job, she really gives away the store in this book. The book is filled with specific nonprofit examples, real-world case studies, email and Website screen shots, strategy ideas, analytical techniques, and other professional insights.
Unlike previous books that were edited compilations of articles from experts in the field, Madeline’s book has a cohesive and linear narrative that leaves the reader with a clear roadmap to translate her insights into action.
The one critique that I will permit myself is that all the examples in this book are from multi-million dollar nonprofits with communications staff. To Madeline’s credit, she acknowledges this point repeatedly, and goes out of her way in the narrative to offer advice to smaller organizations on more limited budgets.
Third, and most importantly, Madeline offers truly useful material on raising money online, built around real-world examples and screen shots to help illustrate her points.
The chapter entitled “It’s all about the list,” discusses how much online fundraising is really a numbers game, and covers five different strategies for growing an organization’s list. The chapter entitled “It’s all about the timing,” brings the numbers game into the real world. “If you take no other lesson from this book, remember this one,” writes Madeline. “To be successful with email fundraising, you must send the right message to the right person at the right time.” With the backdrop of September 11, the Asian tsunami and the Katrina hurricane, Madeline reinforces how important timing is when appealing for funds. Other chapters cover email subject lines, how to get through the clutter of supporter’s inboxes, good writing, how to craft email fundraising campaigns, how to coordinate email appeal with direct mail and telemarketing, and how to mine email messaging data. At 100 pages, there’s no wasted space, and you’ll wonder how she packed it all in.
Finally, the best thing about this book is how easy it is to read. This is not a technical book, it is not boring. It is filled with Madeline’s verve and an infectious attitude that says, "here's how we've raised money online for charities across the country."
After you’ve read Madeline’s book, you’ll be convinced that you can do it too. What are you waiting for?
Michael Stein is a writer and Internet strategist based in Berkeley, California. He is the author of three books and numerous articles about the online medium, and a technology consultant to nonprofits nationwide. Find his website and blog online at www.michaelstein.net.
Exclusive for ePhilanthropy eZine readers: Five (5) copies of "Raising Thousands (If Not Tens of Thousands) of Dollars with Email" will be given away.
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