November 24, 2014: the volcano on the island of Fogo, Cape Verde, erupted after a 20-year slumber. The lava flowing from the molten giant destroyed the homes of thousands of villagers and nearly disintegrated the entire agricultural region on which the island’s economy depends.
My wife’s family hails from Fogo, Cape Verde Islands, so this natural disaster struck a chord for both of us. When my wife, Linda, and I heard the news, we knew we had to help, but donating to the Red Cross didn’t seem like enough. Together, we built the Fogo Fund, a non-profit dedicated to improving the education, health, and wellbeing of the people of Fogo. Our next step was to develop a brand that donors could trust and displaced villagers could rely upon.
The main challenge with any online fundraiser is credibility and transparency, but the community was already saturated and fragmented with fundraising initiatives including donation sites, live events, and individuals collecting food/clothing to send to the islands. All of these groups made it difficult for the Fogo Fund to stand out and battle the aftermath of this volcano. Thankfully, we had something these other organizations didn’t think to leverage: Constant Contact Email Marketing!
3 Tips To Battle A Volcano with Email Marketing
Build Your Database Quickly
Linda and I wanted to drive donations FAST, but we needed a group of people to solicit first. We first added our list of friends, family, and business contacts to our Constant Contact account - about 75 contacts in all. These 75 people would help us to spread the word (and our credibility) to help the displaced victims of the volcano.
Make Them Care Then Make Them Share
Because we had so few contacts in our initial upload, it was very important to leverage the “Forward To A Friend” button in the campaign. We made sure to place a big, bright, beautiful Red “Forward To A Friend” button above the scroll line in our campaign as a primary Call To Action.
Right underneath our “Forward To A Friend” button was a video of my wife and me explaining Fogo Fund, why we started it, and how they could help. The combination of the video and “Forward To A Friend” button helped us to grow the list well over 100 contacts within 1 week, driving additional supporters (and their donations) to the Fogo Fund.
Don’t Underestimate The Power Of The Custom Greeting
We made sure to upload the First Name of every contact in our list in order to personalize our Email campaigns.
The First Name allowed us to leverage Constant Contact’s “Custom Greeting” functionality, so that our Email intro personally addressed our connections. As a note, according to a recent study by Aberdeen, personalized Emails increase click-thru rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10%.
As a result, we’ve experience high open rates, click-thru rates, and online donations from our Email campaigns.
Thanks to our integrated marketing strategy centered around Constant Contact, we’ve exceeded $32,000 in donations in just over one month, and we’re now exploring relationships with American and Cape Verdean philanthropic organizations to help us further our cause.
About the Author: Bryan Caplan of BJC Branding is a Master Certified Authorized Local Expert for Constant Contact and the Co-Founder of Fogo Fund, a non-profit charitable organization to benefit the people of Fogo, Cape Verde. Want to help Bryan battle the volcano? Learn how at www.FogoFund.org.
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