The Foundation regularly sends a planned giving e-magazine. Our goal is to provide helpful information and gently remind subscribers about planning for gifts beyond their lifetimes. Your church has the option to share its email list with us and allow us to send your members a customized e-magazine a monthly basis. We offer this service for free.
Is it safe to share people’s emails with the Foundation? Yes. Our email list is secure and private. It is not for sale, and we don’t share it with any other entity-- not even with the Annual Conference.
Can people opt out? Yes! It takes only two clicks to adjust the frequency or opt out of our newsletters. It’s easier to opt out of than most other email campaigns.
I don’t want to set a precedent of sharing our email list with anyone who asks. We don’t want that, either. The Foundation is different than other organizations who might ask for your email list, because we are developing gifts that will directly benefit your local church. It’s a unique relationship. We are your satellite planned giving office.
Are other churches doing this? Our United Methodist Foundation colleagues in Arkansas send their planned giving newsletter out to more than 15,000 people from more than 30 different local church email lists, and they’ve gotten a very positive response. We’re giving it a try here in the Northwest to see how it goes.
Will this siphon funds away from the church? No. Our e-magazine is designed to inspire gifts for your church, not gifts for the Foundation. It is not a fundraising appeal. We can customize the header and footer with any text you request so that this is crystal clear.
What’s in it? It is a collection of articles and resources dealing with personal finance and Christian stewardship. More importantly, it serves as a regular gentle reminder to think about planned giving. Here’s an example of an e-magazine that’s been customized for Portland First UMC. All of the “Read more” links take people to articles hosted within the planned giving section of our website.
How would we prepare people to be more receptive to it? We’d like to start by having our staff interview one or more church members and write a news story about a bequest that’s already benefitted your church. Then, we recommend making an announcement both in worship and online that conveys, “We’re trying something new: we’re partnering with the Northwest United Methodist Foundation to bring you more information about planned giving. Check your email inbox next week. You’ll get an e-magazine that features an article about our own Jane Doe. It's easy to opt out, but I hope you'll take the time to read about Jane's incredible gift.” The software we’ve purchased generates automatic content, but we can always add custom content at your request. Including custom content the first few times will remind people that it’s church-related and they're not receiving it in error.
How will we know if it’s working? Our software generates reports about open rates and click-through rates just like any other email marketing platform. We’ll always be happy to share reports.
We’re ready! What happens next? Export your church email list as a .csv or Excel file, and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll call you to get instructions about who to interview for a customized news story. After we’ve got the story written, we’ll send a test version to you. You’ll have a chance to request changes to the header, footer, and subject line. We’ll make the needed revisions and send another sample. Once you give it the green light, we’ll agree on a start date and you can make the announcement to your congregation.