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For a nonprofit organization, email marketing is one of the most effective ways to spread the word about a cause, promote a call to action, and inspire philanthropy. It can be a key factor in staying connected with volunteers, donors, and even staff.
At iContact, we are lucky to have the opportunity to work with some outstanding nonprofit organizations. The Autism Society of North Carolina is one example.
The main goal of the Autism Society of NC is to provide individuals and families struggling with autism with the support, opportunities, and information they need to manage care and improve quality of life. The organization does amazing work in communities they serve, and to reach out and communicate with the groups that could benefit from their services, they use a simplified marketing automation platform called iContact Pro.
Recently, we sat down with David Laxton, Director of Communications at the Autism Society of NC to learn more about how the group is taking advantage of new technologies to help them reach their constituents at the right time, or in the right way.
Many of the email marketing best practices applied by the Autism Society of NC can be found in this free Guide For Nonprofits, available for download here.
Follow along below as Laxton explains some of his group’s challenges, and how they were able to overcome them using the tips in this Guide — chances are, these same tips could help your unique nonprofit be successful.
“Just being there is the beginning of many of our relationships with families,” says Laxton. “When a family has a child first diagnosed with autism, we are here to listen, provide tools, and point to other families to lean on.” In addition to the in-person or phone support offered by the Autism Society of NC, the organization also sends out two e-newsletters a month with links to blog articles and content offering valuable information about autism and answering common questions.
Laxton and his team measure the success of their email campaigns by monitoring opens and clicks. Since the organization provides essential information to families to enhance their lives, knowing that the content they send has value is the most important metric for them. It helps the communications team figure out where to focus their future efforts when creating content.
Using both email marketing and landing pages, the Autism Society of NC is able to build and promote program and fundraising initiatives. The Society uses email to promote programs such as camps and retreats they host at their organization-owned camp, or events to raise awareness and funds. An important fundraising avenue for the group is the series of eight run/walks they host each year. Laxton segments his lists by race, and tries to send different messaging depending on when subscribers sign up, to both personalize each approach and avoid sending repetitive information. (Learn how to leverage event sign-ups on pg. 7 in our Guide for Nonprofits.)
In the past year, Laxton and his team successfully employed the landing page feature in iContact Pro. By using a landing page to promote a program called “Life Long Interventions,” Laxton launched a brand new initiative that grew to have over 500 people wanting to participate in the program. They key: using landing pages for conversion, and automatically directing the transfer of contacts to a specific list. This feature has proved invaluable to Laxton’s small team, because it maximizes results and minimizes the tedious, manual work that would otherwise take up limited staff time.
“Information is power, and iContact helps put that in the inbox,” says Laxton. “One part of what we do is monitoring relevant legislation that might affect our community, and email helps us keep our members updated at the click of a button and at a low cost. For example, if something is going on that’s not in the best interest of our group, we can send out an email to quickly mobilize our base.” To increase effectiveness, the Society also has their lists segmented by county, so they can send out relevant information if the news is region-specific. (Get tips on List Segmentation on pg. 9 of our free Guide for Nonprofits.)
For the Autism Society of NC, the biggest asset of iContact Pro is that it hosts everything under one umbrella – social media, news releases, email marketing, and landing pages. “There are a lot of email service providers to choose from,” says Laxton, “but you can’t do as many things in one place. Having such a wide variety of activities in one place is invaluable. Being a nonprofit, time and financial resources are limited. I have a team of just three people, and everyone uses iContact Pro. It is easy to learn and seamless because we can schedule our marketing communications and then move on to the next project of the day.”
If you’d like to donate to the Autism Society of NC, please visit this link; if you would like to volunteer, or help spread the word of the good they’re doing in North Carolina for the autistic community, the Society would love to hear from you. Please visit their website for more information.
Don’t have an account yet? Nonprofits that verify their 501(c)(3) status will receive 20% OFF their accounts, and organizations located in North Carolina are eligible for a free account. Start with a free trial here.
Since 2003, nonprofits and businesses worldwide have achieved significant results by turning to iContact’s best-in-class digital marketing solutions and knowledgeable team members. Made scalable to serve the needs of high-volume senders, and marketers new to email, iContact’s easy-to-use technology, available in both English and Spanish versions, ensures that every customer has what they need to succeed. Follow them @iContact.