Customer story with Mary Bliziotes
Own a non-profit organization and unsure of how to get more donations? Looking for ways to encourage people to donate? Well, Mary Bliziotes from the Morgan County Homeless Coalition has some first-hand experience to share.
As founder of a homeless shelter, Mary is always looking for new ways to encourage both volunteers and donors to step up and help out. That is, until she found the most effective email marketing strategy to help her in her efforts in motivating volunteers to serve and succeed.
We had a chat with Mary on how she runs her organization, and how her email marketing efforts help her raise funds.
Hi, Mary! Can you tell me a little bit about your business?
Morgan County Homeless Coalition, or MCHC, is a coalition of churches and businesses that have come together to provide care to individuals and families who are homeless. It is an all-volunteer organization.
Our mission is to provide a cold weather shelter for the homeless. We focus on providing temporary housing for up to ten guests each night. We also provide them with basic necessities such as a personal hygiene kit, a cot to sleep on, two meals per day, and, of course, the comfort of a roof over their head and a safe space to sleep.
How many people on average do you provide shelter to?
We shelter up to 35 people during the cold weather months. Last year we acquired a building which we are renovating to accommodate nine additional individuals. We shelter families with children in local hotels.
Connect with the community
How do you spread information about your shelter?
Our shelter runs primarily on funds from donors. To keep our donors informed and to encourage them to donate again, we make sure we’re constantly in contact with the people on our list and that they know about all shelter activities.
We also openly accept volunteers from the community. So it’s important that we keep the local community informed of our events and activities, as well as about the volunteer process.
How do you stay in contact with donors and volunteers?
We stay in contact through email marketing. We recently began using PosterMyWall for our email marketing strategy and are continuously learning about all the benefits it provides. I think more and more people are using email marketing to communicate because it’s a great way to optimize your presence in your community.
We maintain separate email lists for donors and the community. We send newsletters more frequently to donors, while members of the community receive \more event/activity letters.
Separate your email lists according to demographic
How did you build your email contact lists?
Learning how to build an email list was easy. We started by manually collecting contact information from everyone who showed interest in the shelter, whether they wanted to donate or help out in another way. Then, we separated our regular donors from the other community members. This enables us to target both segments with content that is more relevant to them.
Provide updated information to your email recipients
What sort of content do you include in your emails?
Our email marketing content consists mainly of a monthly newsletter that we send out to our email recipients, particularly our donors. The newsletter includes information on our activities and campaigns, and recognizes donors’ contributions. This is our way of encouraging people to donate and making sure that they know their donations are going to the right places and helping people.
Our May newsletter gave updates on the Hope House, a building we recently acquired and are in the process of turning into a shelter. The newsletter also includes our mission statement so that any new email recipients know what we stand for.
Create vibrant content for all your events and fundraisers
What else do you add to your emails?
We host a lot of fundraising events, which we also promote through emails. These go out to our donors, as well as to the community, so help us sign up more volunteers.
We host a lot of fun events, from bowling parties and golf tournaments to speakers events, and we use PosterMyWall to create posters for all of them.
Have you received a good response to your email campaigns?
We’ve only been doing this for a short time – but we see the potential. We’re starting to get more volunteers and it’s a lot easier to get the word out about our events and fundraising efforts through email than it was through physical flyers or even word of mouth.
PosterMyWall really has been a life and time saver. We can get the word out in a consistent manner and our visual assets always look professional.
What advice would you give to a business owner just starting out with email marketing?
The only way to find out if email marketing works for you is to try it out. The best thing about email marketing is that your email list will narrow itself down. Those who don’t want to hear from you will simply unsubscribe, so you’ll only be reaching out to the people who are interested in your message. So try it out, create vibrant content, and send out regular emails about all your recent efforts.
Great! Thank you for joining us, Mary.
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