Great results from email fundraising appeal by Ecojustice Canada


With so much buzz these days focusing on Facebook fundraising and Twitter campaigning, it’s nice to hear of a good-old email campaign delivering great results for a nonprofit – in this case for Ecojustice Canada (pointed-out to me by old friend and former colleague Lynne Boardman, now at Harvey McKinnon Associates in Vancouver).

Born out of a desire to help protect an endangered community of Canadian west coast killer whales, the appeal highlighted their plight by explaining that only 83 of the whales remained and asked supporters to take action on their behalf by becoming one of the first 83 people to give a gift to the Honour an Orca Campaign. In return for a donation of $50 or more the donor would not only be supporting a lawsuit to help protect the remaining 83 but they, or a nominated friend or loved one, would also receive a holiday season card and set of wildlife postcards.

The appeal was emailed to just 4,900 supporters and other contacts but returned over 160 donations – beating the 83 target within three days – with an average gift of over $90, raising some $15,000 in total and helping make 2008 the best year yet for Ecojustice’s online fundraising programme. Not only that, they also received a great response to a direct mail campaign sent at the same time, assuaging fears that increased online income might cannibalize offline donations.

Looking at the email, I was reminded of the old direct mail appeal checklist that I often used to use when both briefing and reviewing fundraising appeals for clients:

  1. Need – do you clearly explain the need you want to address?
  2. Solution – do you offer a specific soution to that need?
  3. Cost – what is it that the donor can do to help deliver that solution?
  4. Urgency – why should they respond now and not later (or not at all)?
  5. Donor Context – why is this appeal particularly relevant to this donor?
  6. Donor Benefit – what does the donor receive if they respond to your appeal?

The idea is that unless you can answer each of the questions, then there is something important missing – and this goes for email as well as snail-mail appeals.

The Ecojustice campaign ticks every one of the boxes – with a very real need; a specific response to that need which required donations to make it happen; urgency based around both the plight of the whales and the timing of the law case; the context of this being a unique Canadian whale community; and the benefit of the holiday tribute card as well as knowing that you’ve done something specific to help protect the whales. All this was presented through a simple but well thought through email, that included links to the latest information on missing whales and details of the landmark lawsuit against the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Job done!

Thanks to Deanna Bayne of Ecojustice Canada for letting me share some of the details of her appeal as a guide for anyone looking to develop their own email fundraising in the future.

3 thoughts on “Great results from email fundraising appeal by Ecojustice Canada

  1. Thanks Bryan for the kind words, on behalf of Deanna and the Ecojustice crew.
    We appreciate the recognition and positive evaluation!

    Cassie Barker
    Outreach Coordinator, Ecojustice

  2. This is really interesting. Is there a way for us to see the email appeals and see how they put the check-list into action?

    Margaret Cohen
    Children’s Hospital Foundation

  3. Hi Margaret, I only kept the email appeals while I reviewed them but if you contact Cassie at Ecojustice (who commented above) she might be able to forward you a copy.

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