How to Engage People on Your Nonprofit List

I don’t know about you, but my email inbox is flowing over most days of the week. Trying to stay on top of it just seems to drive me further in to the weeds. Do you know what I’m talking about?

So how do you prioritize what you look at? I’m willing to bet that the first thing you do is look at who it’s from.

If we want to have people open our email, we have to engage them in a way that they know that we’re providing information that is useful and that they will want to read.

Here are three things you can do that will help to accomplish that goal:

First, set up an ‘onboarding’ process for people who are new to your list. This could be a series of emails that introduce people to your organization, or it couple be a packet you send in the mail. Or maybe you’d like to offer them a video they can watch, or even a live webinar. Whatever you decide to use, provide information that your reader or listener wants to know. This helps to establish you as someone they like and trust.

Then you have the regular, routine communication you are sending out. It could be a blog, printed item, email or other standard communication that you are sending out. Schedule out what you want to be sending – and then stick to it. You’ll build trust over time just by telling people what you’re going to do – and then doing it. It sounds simple, but this is important.

And now for the really fun part – it’s time to start interacting with the people you are communicating with. It can’t be all that engaging if all the communication is one way. In addition to the standard ways organizations are doing this (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, etc), consider hosting teleconferences or webinars. People have less time these days, so these tools make it easier for people to attend.

Please remember that the main use of social media is about relating with people. It’s not about standing with a megaphone on the corner hollering your message at everyone. So take time to listen and get to know the unwritten rules before jumping in with both feet. Then you can start talking with people and finding out what types of things they want to know. At that point we’re better able to communicate via these mediums without inadvertently causing more trouble than help.

So to summarize the three steps: onboard, communicate, and interact. What would you add?

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