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GuideStar Blog

Nancy Schwartz

Recent Posts by Nancy Schwartz:

4 Steps to Launching a Team of Passionate Messengers

You face an uphill battle to recruit members and retain them at ever higher and more effective levels of engagement, as well as to maximize your organization’s impact. There's nothing more important than these two goals.

Reactivate Your Email List (Case Study)

The following is a cross-post by Karla Capers from Nancy Schwartz's blog, To read the original article, click here.

Karla Capers

I’m Online Director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and we were faced with a real challenge—how to re-engage the many folks who were not reading or acting on our emails.

Here’s our three-part reactivation method:

We Segmented Our Inactives
We defined “inactive” as anyone who’s never given the organization a donation (online or off) and hadn’t opened, clicked, or taken any action online in the last year.

Then, in February, we started to segment out the “inactive” people on our list and excluding them from all outgoing messages. That “inactive” segment turned out to be about 25% of our deliverable email file.

Then Sent Our Campaign
Next, we set up a three-part series of emails to try to re-engage those inactive people:

1. Initial email

  • Goes out when someone first falls into the “inactive” file.
  • Subject line: “We miss you [first name]“
  • Asks them to click on a link to let us know they still want to receive emails from UCS.
  • The landing page that click gets them to says something like “Thanks and welcome back….” and automatically adds them back into the “Active” file.

2. Second email (if recipient doesn’t click on first email)

  • Goes out one week later.
  • Subject line: “Science still needs you [firstname]“
  • Tries to re-engage people with an action alert, talks about recent attacks on science and asks the person to sign a generic pledge to “stand with science”.

3. Third email (if recipient doesn’t click on second email)

  • Goes out one week later.
  • Subject line: “thanks and goodbye”
  • Informs the person that since we haven’t heard from them in a long time we are going to unsubscribe them and offers one last chance to click to still receive emails from us.
  • The landing page is a survey where they can update their email subscriptions by issue topic and type of message and give us feedback on why they have been out of touch.

Our Results—Good, But Want to Do Better
Since February, we have re-engaged almost 5% of our inactive file. That’s a value of about $13,000 if we were paying for those names so that seems worth it to me.

Of the three emails, the third email performed the best re-engaging 3.17% of the inactive file. Email one re-engaged 1.56% and email two only 0.88%.

Next Steps—Before Inaction
One thing I would like to do is add another email to the series to try to re-engage people *before* they fall into the inactive pool–so maybe when they haven’t clicked or acted on anything in 3 months or 6 months. I think if we tried to reconnect with them sooner we might pull even more people back into the active file.

How do you reengage inactive supporters, whether those on your email list who don’t respond or lapsed donors? Please share your reactivation methods here.

P.S. Get more nonprofit marketing tools, templates, case studies & tips delivered right to your in-box! Register here for the Getting Attention blog & e-news.

Since 1996, Karla Capers has been working for advocacy organizations, figuring out ways to use the internet to raise visibility for progressive issues, engage people in campaigns, and try to make the world a better place.

Note from Nancy: I came upon Karla’s terrific guidance for re-engaging folks on the Progressive Exchange list serv, and got her permission to repost here.

Is Your Content Missing this Vital Ingredient?

Nancy Schwartz

Build Strong & Lasting Relationships -- A Case Study

Our daughter, Charlotte, is away at Camp Harlam for 3 1/2 long weeks this summer. It’s her second time, and our pleasure in relaxed evenings and quiet weekend mornings is punctuated by severe pangs of missing her.

Aunt Frances’ Recipe for 5-Star Fundraising

I’ve been thinking a lot about my Great Aunt Frances, who passed away last year at the age of 107. Until that day, she was as warm, loving and sharp as ever. She unknowingly taught me so much, including this recipe for fundraising success that I want to share with you today.

Get the Budget You Need to Do Marketing Right

The hands-down most hated and most-frequently-avoided marketing task is budgeting. I hear that from you and your peers in the field, time and time again.

What to Do When Pressured to Get & Use Big Data?

Big Data is like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it,” reports Marketoonist Tom Fishburne.

Remember when your leadership and board members were scared stiff about social media, especially fundraising-wise? And when, in many organizations, that was followed by intense pressure to get on social media pronto to achieve perhaps-impossible goals, WITHOUT additional resources?

Based on what I hear from many of you, we’re in the same boat with big data right now.

Data does have huge potential for enabling the kind of right-things, right-now fundraising and marketing needed to motivate the actions you need from supporters. Affordable and widely-available technologies—with database, fundraising, email, marketing automation and other functions—now produce tons of data. But the data alone won’t get you anywhere.


Take these three steps to get data working for fundraising and marketing impact:

1) Catalog the useful data you already have:

  • Assess what constituent information—preferences, habits, relationships and interactions—is accessible now, and where each component lives across all departments and databases in your organization
  • Select ten to 15 data points max that have the greatest potential to fix gaps or weaknesses in your current marketing such as motivating first-time donors to give a second gift.

2) Set up systems, roles, and responsibilities to harvest, share, and analyze these data points

  • Implement a robust database tool that enables you to connect all data on a single supporter or participant (now fragmented in multiple departments and records) in a single, in-depth profile. That the key to the rich insights (a true 360-degree perspective) necessary for truly integrated marketing and fundraising that reflects your supporters’ interactions with your organization over time, and is delivered consistently—across channels and campaigns—for a more relevant, resonant experience.
  • Log, share, and analyze what you learn about your people across your organization—instead of limiting analysis to actions within a single program, campaign or channel—in a way that’s easy to access for all.

The more coordinated and robust your insight is into each person you’re hoping to engage, the greater the probability you’ll motivate him or her to take the next action (or realize that he/she’s not a likely prospect).

3) Make the changes—in content, format, and/or channel—as indicated

Then rinse and repeat to provide the kind of relevant and connected experience most likely to motivate supporters to take the action you need.


Nancy Schwartz

The preceding is a guest post by Nancy Schwartz, Speaker-Author-Strategist of Nancy helps nonprofits like yours succeed through effective marketing. For more nonprofit marketing guidance like this, subscribe to her e-update at

Time to Recommit to Your Privacy Policy

Privacy policy? Didn’t we all do that already, during the advent of our websites and email programs?

Share Compelling Models to Build Marketing Buy-In

Have marketing naysayers among your colleagues or leadership? Honestly, they’re there in every organization I know!

How to Build Email Trust with Supporters

This fresh approach to creating the most effective email campaigns possible is a priceless reminder built on famed psychologist Abe Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Although created for for-profit marketers, is equally relevant for us cause communicators and fundraisers.