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Unlocking Growth for Organizations and Idealists Like You

Top Five Tips For 2014: Tip #4 Make Your Emails Stand Out

[Editors Note: Over the holidays, in addition to consuming vast quantities of butter and potentially wearing a dangerous sweater or two, the Plenty team spent its time reading fundraising advice from the past year and combing through the numerous advice columns for 2014.

We thought we’d follow tradition and offer you our top five pieces of advice for the year ahead.]

Tip #4: Make your emails stand out.

I have to be honest with you. I don’t read most of your organization’s emails. Maybe it’s because I receive too many emails or maybe it’s because your emails are boring. Why don’t I just unsubscribe, you ask? I don’t know. Maybe someday there will be something in there I’ll need to read. Truth be told, I’m also one of those people who has a tough time cleaning out her closet. I know I haven’t worn that green sweater in six years but, hey, I might need it someday. You never know. But that’s a different problem for a different day. For now, let’s focus on emails.

I think my biggest issue with the emails I receive is that most of them lack personality. I could swap out the organization name, the cause and the relevant statistics and send that same email on behalf of any other organization. Why spend the time to read them all if they all sound the same?

Not all of the emails that hit my inbox are boring, however. My love affair with emails from travel marketplace Airbnb started on July 8, 2013. I was cleaning out my inbox after the 4th of July weekend and rapidly hitting delete, when something caught my eye and made me smile.

“What the hell happened to you? When did you accept the fact that a Fourth of July barbecue, a measly four days lying on a beach somewhere, and a family trip to Aunt Bertha’s was good enough? It’s not good enough. You need to redefine “vacation” in order to recapture that amazing feeling all summer long.”

I paused my deleting frenzy and read every single line of that email. And I have read every single line of every single email they have sent me since then because their emails are interesting and full of personality and I want to see what they will say next.

Your emails don’t need to be funny or witty like Airbnb’s, they just need to sound like you. (And if your organization isn’t funny or witty than your emails definitely shouldn’t be.) I know firsthand how much time goes into writing, editing, rewriting, proofreading, rewriting, rewriting and rewriting email copy. If you’re going to spend all of that time on your emails, why not at least inject some personality and write emails that people will want to read?

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Topics: Funding Strategy