I was pleasantly surprised to run across a compelling case study featuring a nonprofit organization in ClickZ, the e-marketing industry rag which seldom covers the nonprofit sector. Anyway, this article covers the innovative use of email by the Ryan Andrew Kaiser Memorial Foundation (RAKMF).
RAKMF, dedicated to fighting pediatric heart disease, is a relatively small organization, has maximized its message and reach with the use of email and its website. The RAKMF staff has leveraged email as:
- A sponsorship tool. E-mail is used to initiate contact with potential sponsors, with a phone follow up. In other cases, e-mail is used throughout the information-gathering and support-validation process. It’s also used as an effective means to distribute the official documents surrounding the sponsorships.
- A donor management tool. After each donation, Andy and Lauren Kaiser send a personal thank-you e-mail back to the donor, telling the donor how her thoughtfulness has touched their family and how the donation will help the RAKMF’s cause. This personal e-mail builds a relationship, which is critical to the organization’s success, philosophically and financially, and is leveraged for future events and communications.
- An awareness vehicle, through urging stakeholders to "forward emails to a friend." The viral e-marketing strategy has worked well, with awareness spreading from the northeast, where RAKMF is located, throughout the nation.
- An event management tool. Email is used to advertise RAKMF’s annual 5K fundraiser event, coordinate volunteers, build community support, and communicate with the runners.
As ClickZ reporter Jeanniey Mullen writes, "Parallel-path e-mail initiatives that converge at key points in a relationship will power the effectiveness of e-mail in 2006. Now is the time to make sure your efforts are aligned to take advantage of the future."
RAKMF is certainly ahead of its time, and a great example of how your nonprofit can put email to work.