Close To The Heart: Nonprofit Group Revives Almost 500,000 Inactives With Email Effort

The American Heart Association is starting to recover from COVID-19, partly thanks to a successful infusion of cash from an email reactivation campaign.  

The nonprofit group had been hit hard by the pandemic, as it relies heavily on events like walks and runs that could no longer be held. There was a huge loss of revenue and “because of budget constraints, they cut the budget in half,” says Niely Shams, president of Data Axle Nonprofit Solutions.

Data Axle  took on the task of looking at the association’s expired list, a file of 8.2 million non-engaged donors, including defunct email addresses and some that were still live but not engaged, with “all kinds of sources going into this one file going back to who knows when,” says Shams.

The company did some email list hygiene, suppressing current donors, identifying who was who within households and taking basic measures to ensure deliverability, etc.

Data Axle has a massive email list that it can use to verify accuracy. It also took measures such as matching the AHA list against a deceased file (a prudent move, given the pandemic and the fact that the average AHA donor skews older). 

It ended up with 4 million names, which it then winnowed down to 2.2 million. That was the number mailed.  

People received two emails. The creative, which was also done by Data Axle and had multiple versions, did not refer to the fact that the donor had disengaged.  

Instead, it relied on such messages as “GIVE THANKS with all Your Heart this Holiday Season” and “Support your Community ONE HEART at a Time.”

The result? The two-month program generated $255,000 (welcome money) and reactivated almost half a million emails. However, those are not going right into the regular email file. “We’re keeping it separate for now,” Shams says.  

Here are a couple of other juicy stats, from a case study on the campaign: It increased the overall email database by 22% and improved Gmail deliverability by 100%, while open rates exceeded benchmarks by 607%.  

The next move? Perhaps adding new channels, and trying direct mail for reactivation. 

You gotta have heart. 



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