There are many obstacles to philanthropic giving. Sadly, many of those obstacles are put in place by the very nonprofit organizations that are seeking and dependent upon contributions. I heard a ridiculous example of this recently when I was presenting at the Association of Fundraising Professionals International Conference. Let me share with you what happened.
I was teaching “Donor-Centered Marketing: Tips to Boost Your Planned Giving Results.” I explained to my audience that it’s important to make it easy for prospects to contact us. I told the group that their full contact information should be used in their email signature block. That’s when someone challenged me. She said that she had read a magazine article about sales that said that email senders should stop using signature blocks since they 1) clutter email messages, and 2) since readers know how to contact the sender or can easily find out how to contact the sender. (She cited a mass-market publication that supposedly espoused the view she was sharing, but since I have been unable to find the referenced article, I will not name the magazine here.)
There’s no reason to consider not using an email signature. The argument that it clutters the message is bogus. An email signature comes at the very end of an email message. If someone doesn’t want to look at it, it’s easily ignored. If someone wants the information, it’s right there.
The suggestion that we should not use an email signature because people know how to reach us already or can find us if they want to is utter nonsense! Why in the world would we force people to find us in order to give us their money? Why would we make it difficult for people to reach us and donate? Good grief!
We need to make it easy for prospective donors and supporters to get in touch with us. That’s the donor-centered thing to do. If we force folks to play detective and hunt for our contact information, they may rightly think we don’t care about them, and they may just as easily search for the contact information of another organization. So, don’t frustrate your email recipients by making them search for how to contact you the way they want.
To make sure that your email signature works hard for you, follow these seven simple rules:
- Use an email signature. Use it on all messages you send. Use it on all replies. It will make it easy for people to contact you and to pass along your information to others.
- Include all important contact information such as name, institution, mailing address, phone number, email address, web URL, Facebook link, Twitter link, relevant tagline. Make information clickable.
- Do NOT include jokes or clever quotes in your signature. They take up space and quickly get stale.
- Automate your signature using your email system’s settings. This will allow you to avoid forgetting to add your signature block, and it will make emailing easier for you.
- Separate your signature block from the body of your email. At a minimum, put “–” on a line and begin your signature on the following line. This should be at the bottom of your email to avoid getting in the way of your message.
- Keep each line of your signature block to under 80 characters. Some suggest keeping it under 50 characters per line. This will minimize broken lines at the recipient’s end.
- Make sure your email signature block can be read on mobile devices. Don’t get too fancy. Keep it simple and readable.
The easier you make it for people to contact you, the more likely they will be to actually do so and the less frustrated they will be. So, if you’re not currently using an email signature, set one up now. And, if you do use a signature, double check to make sure it is complete. While you’re at it, make sure your name and contact information appear on your website; people are more likely to reach out to an individual than an organization.
That’s what Michael Rosen Says… What do you say?