- Winner of PRSA’s VOX Gold Award | Online Tactics: E-newsletter, 2022.
The Chris Hope Foundation (CHF) helps fill in the gaps that may arise when parents or families struggle with the cost of treatment for childhood cancer or other chronic illnesses.
The financial burden after a diagnosis can amount to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, and even in situations where treatment itself is covered, depleted savings, lost time at work, lower credit scores and even lost scholarships or educational opportunities are among the consequences. This is the space within which the Foundation works.
CHF has two monthly newsletters, including an emailed edition and a podcast-style video newsletter known as HOPEcast, which Wilson Public Relations helped launch. Both keep subscribers informed about CHF family stories, volunteer opportunities, and events that support the mission. This communication ensures that donors know how funds are being spent, how community partners are being honored for their contributions, and the ways impact stories are being shared.
The client had a specific network of healthcare partners that helped the organization identify families in need, such as the dedicated Child Life Specialists at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. Because of the intricacies involved in patient care, confidentiality, and support, the organization needed a highly curated communication method to share about efforts and outreach. As such, it was determined that an online e-newsletter was the most cost effective way to reach targeted audiences.
The client already used Network for Good to store its database of donors and contacts. These entries and lists are segmented by a variety of metrics related to donor activity, and this allowed Wilson Public Relations to study the existing audience and determine what types of content would be most valuable to them.
Additionally, secondary research is clear on donor engagement, which influenced the development of this tactic and buoyed our confidence about the outcome. One study that we referenced in planning suggested that for every 1,000 fundraising messages sent, $78 is raised.
Our end-goals included:
- Keeping target audiences up-to-date and informed about Chris Hope Foundation news and events.
- Obtaining donations from active donors and reviving the interest of stagnant donors.
- Using Constant Contact’s March 2021 research as a benchmark, a goal was set to meet the nonprofit industry average for open rates: 21.62%.
Additionally, list growth was determined to be vital to the impact of this tactic. In support of that goal, target growth rates were outlined internally, along with tactics that directly nurture that outcome. As discussed in implementation, these action items ranged from easier opt-in and subscriber incentive to advertising the email list on all customer touch points.
Wilson Public Relations utilized Network for Good, the Foundation’s charitable giving platform and contact database, to build an email template suitable for this communication. Three things were kept at the forefront of execution and implementation:
- Mobile-friendly design
- High priority/impact stories
- Clear, interactive audience touchpoints
Wilson Public Relations streamlined the design and copy for the monthly newsletter keeping those three points in mind. The template features multiple opportunities to include photos and videos, leveraging visual aspects to tell a more robust story. Moving away from text-heavy components is one way this e-newsletter provides a unique reader experience.
Upon opening the email, recipients are greeted with the Chris Hope Foundation banner image, containing links to impact, donate, and events pages. The first (or headline) story is always high impact and timely; examples include upcoming events or Foundation news related to financials. Second, we always feature a Kid of the Month, who is identified by one of the Chris Hope Foundation partners. Additional news sections include, but are not limited to, donation spotlights, community partner mentions, volunteer opportunities, and media mentions.
To encourage list growth, a sign up button was added on the website footer and social media posts reminded followers to sign up for exclusive content each month.
Additionally, since more than half of all emails are now read on mobile. Wilson Public Relations refined the layout to include shorter opening blocks of copy and/or bullets, making it easier to scan on small screens. Impactful visual media is the main focus of this promotional tool.
Email marketing benchmarks allowed us to track the performance of monthly e-newsletter campaigns. So far, year-to-date Network for Good open rates for the Chris Hope Foundation reached 20.6%, only one point shy of our goal in relation to the industry average.
The contact list has also demonstrated steady growth month-over-month, with a 2.3% growth rate YTD.
Active and lapsed donors are interacting with the newsletter at almost equal rates. Plus, visits to the CHF donation page increased more than 30% year on year.