The Email Humanitarian Effort

What happened in Haiti is devastating on so many levels, and you can't venture far from your favorite media channel without hearing updates and news. Generosity and support are pouring in around the world, and some email marketers are using their email marketing communications for this humanitarian effort. Kudos to you for recognizing that every email you send doesn't have to include a coupon or a discount. Sometimes, more brand equity can be derived from what you do and how you leverage your marketing spend during these times. While I am sure (or hope) that many companies are making their own contributions, the following are three notable efforts that are worth checking out.

American Express
American Express is allowing members to convert points to dollars to aid the Haiti Relief Effort. For every 1,000 points you redeem, American Express will donate $10, with no limit or cap (depending on whether you have the points in your account, of course!).



Trip Advisor
Trip Advisor, as a visible part of the travel and hospitality industry, has sent notification to its email subscribers providing a list of viable organizations to support in the relief effort. In addition to its encouraging words of support, the company has provided an invaluable resource to those who want to help but may not know which legitimate organizations are providing assistance.
This is the one that might be a little obscure, since it isn't necessarily a big brand name sending mass amounts of email. However, this organization is providing a unique service that helps individuals to raise funds for the relief effort. I received a LinkedIn message from a colleague of mine interested in leveraging his social clout to raise awareness and support. Right now, jenn.svobo has raised $200 for earthquake relief in Haiti -- how about you?

The point? That not all email marketing efforts need to be marketing efforts. Sometimes you can have the biggest impact on your brand and your business by just being nice.

4 comments about "The Email Humanitarian Effort".
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  1. Chad White from Litmus, January 21, 2010 at 10:47 a.m.

    Retailers are responding to the devastation in Haiti as well. For instance, encouraged subscribers to buy goods from Haitian craftsmen via their Worldstock store. But the most sincere email I've seen was from Coldwater Creek, which simply encouraged people to donate and recommended a few charities. There was no promotional tie in, just a simple, heartfelt appeal.

  2. Liz Lynch from Demandware, January 21, 2010 at 11:02 a.m.

    I think sending these types of messages can be good because it puts a human face on a company and makes them part of the community, not just someone trying to sell.

    This morning I got an e-mail from Kiehl's letting people know about an organization they've worked with in the past that is currently helping in Haiti. There was no promotional content, just a recommendation if someone wanted to make a donation.

    Here's a link to the e-mail.;767498;1226437794;3;02&R=T1_ONL&A=1007

  3. Alison Reynolds from e-Dialog, January 21, 2010 at 12:08 p.m.

    After the devastation in Haiti I think we've truly seen what e-mail and social media can do to help support a larger cause and the influence it has to mobilize a significant audience to donate. Rue La La closed their boutiques for 24 hours and instead encouraged their customers to donate to the American Red Cross. This was one of many causes promoted via Twitter, Facebook and e-mail:

  4. Liz Lynch from Demandware, January 26, 2010 at 1:53 p.m.

    Here's another nice example from VivaTerra.
    It's a letter from one of the founders, talking about their history in sourcing products from Haiti and letting people know that with each purchase of an item made in Haiti, VivaTerra will donate the profits, up to $10,000, through April 30th.

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