Here are three ways to facilitate face-to-face, phone-to-phone, and email-to-email transmission of information about your cause.
1. Provide an inexpensive brochure or handout wherever your volunteers, users, patrons, or supporters gather, pass through, or stop in. I am a fervent user of a nonprofit community center...especially its exercise classes for people over 50. Unlike commercial gyms, this organization really likes and takes care of its older patrons.
Since I was going to a gathering of people who are in this age group, I stopped by the organization's front desk recently, on my way from an exercise class, and asked for some flyers I could give to people at the function I would be attending.
Did they have anything? Nope. The best they could do was a bulky folder that is used as an orientation for new members. That was not what I needed. A little bi-fold brochure would have worked, or even a simply printed flyer. I could have taken several and passed them around to my dinner companions. I, like many people, am a great ambassador for organizations that I like and use. It is worth it to make that informal boosting easy for people like me.
2. Make reminder calls to people who have signed up for an event. Make follow-up phone calls to no-shows.It's a great idea to make all kinds of phone calls. For instance, have volunteers make a reminder call to people who have signed up for a special event. Even leaving a short message on people's phones will work wonders to increase your attendance. It may even provide an opportunity for those who find they can't attend to let you know and make arrangements to support you in some other way. This won't work, obviously, for events that involve thousands, but it would for smaller, more intimate gatherings.
Go further, and make a follow-up call to those people who didn't make it. Recently, I could not make it to a small event at a local nonprofit. It wasn't that I wasn't interested, I just had to make a choice at the last minute to do something else important. No one called me to find out why I was a no-show. Just a "we missed you" would have sufficed. If they had called, I would have apologized and asked when their next similar event was. Or, they might have even gotten me to volunteer for something. In any case, I would have appreciated the follow-up. It would have let me know that I was important to the organization.
3. Send an email immediately after you gather a person's email. Yes, that's right. Gathering email addresses is an ongoing task if you ever hope to develop a viable email marketing or fundraising campaign. But, when I give my email, I never know if that email address actually gets put into a system and acted upon. Sometimes, my email is entered on a form of some sort, but more often it is a legal pad passed around and then tucked into someone's purse. I always have a sinking feeling that my email address is going nowhere.
Why not dash off an acknowledgment email immediately to thank the person for their email address? It will first of all confirm that you do have an accurate email for them (if it bounces, make an effort to contact the person another way to correct the email address), and the recipient will know that you are on the ball. Furthermore, they won't be surprised when they get your email newsletter or some other communication at a later time. Haven't you sometimes wondered how someone got your email? That happens if it's weeks or months between providing your email, and getting a communication.
I recently attended a class at a nonprofit organization where the instructor provided an email sign-up sheet if we were interested in a series of presentations on the same topic. I was very interested and signed up. But, really, I have no idea whether that sign up will actually result in my receiving the information I am hoping for. I haven't heard anything so far.
Don't let this happen to your contacts. You don't know what you might be missing. A potential donor, a paying subscriber, an ambassador for your cause. These are simple things to do...tasks your volunteers will be happy to do for you.
How many potential supporters are you letting slip through these tiny, but oh so important, cracks?