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The Lord's Taverners envisage a future where all young people, irrespective of background and ability, have the everyday opportunity to play cricket and other competitive sports and enjoy physical activities to the benefit of their self-esteem, health, education and future socio-economic potential.
James Gillson is Communications Manager at the charity. Arriving at the Taverners from a commercial marketing background, one of his first tasks with his colleagues was to get to grips with existing approaches and to see what could be improved.
“We were fortunate in a way that we had a relatively new communications and fundraising team,” he says. “We were able to look with fresh eyes at what we were doing with sponsors, partners and donors – both current and prospective. One thing I noted was that The Lord’s Taverners hadn’t previously used email communications, aside from single messages to individual recipients.”
The link with CTT came from the new Chief Executive, who happened to have encountered the technology provider whilst working for a previous charity. James expressed an interest in CTTMail, which appeared to offer what the organisation needed to set up a structured bulk email approach.
“We had some very helpful sessions with Maria and her colleagues,” James recalls. “My initial impression was certainly that it was a good service. I’ve worked in marketing and publishing before; I’ve used content management systems and have a basic familiarity with Quark and Adobe Creative Suite. CTTMail was far more user friendly than those, and we were especially interested in the reporting side of things – to see opens, click-throughs, forwards and recommendations. So we started using it – and it spiralled from there.”
The charity’s initial plan was to use email to start to reduce reliance on expensive printed material.
“The Lord’s Taverners had produced a biannual magazine and a quarterly printed newsletter for several years, so supporters would receive an item of print from us around every other month. Our intention was that we’d partially move the newsletter to email – perhaps by replacing two printed editions per year with an electronic equivalent,” James explains.
“In fact, the e-newsletter has been so well-received that this is now going monthly. We were also planning to print a ‘members offers’ brochure, but have decided to distribute this via CTTMail too. Email hasn’t replaced print entirely, but it has allowed us to be more efficient and reduce costs – perhaps in a few years it will take over,” he says.
Although very much a charity, raising money for disadvantaged and disabled youngsters across the UK, The Lord’s Taverners is also a membership organisation – and James and his colleagues are very conscious of this when planning their mailings.
“We have a duty to keep people up-to-date, and our members pay subscriptions to be part of The Lord’s Taverners,” he says. “So we are very careful to maintain a consistent balance in our email communications. Obviously we don’t want to bombard people with messages, but we know that they want us to keep in touch with them. There is also the balance between ‘asking people for things’ – such as donations and selling events tickets – and ‘giving something back to them’. So our newsletters will all have a mix of results, special offers and news items - alongside fundraising requests.”
James also cautions against over-enthusiasm – even on the less sales-based material. “We’ve started emailing events flyers to members, to let them know what’s going on. A couple of times these were sent immediately after a newsletter, and we found unsubscribes rose slightly. Everybody has to understand that people receive lots of similar mail – electronic and in print – from us and from other organisations, so the balance of content must be right at all times,” he says.
The experiences of the past year have been extremely positive for all concerned, and the charity now reports a satisfyingly high email open rate of 34%.
“CTTMail seems an incredible deal – but I know that CTT is all about cost effective solutions for charities,” James says. “The support we get is fantastic and it’s a very easy system to use – I’m no designer, but I find it very easy to import images and to create layouts.”
“We had an instance where a flyer had been pre-created by a designer, and Maria at CTT was able to take this and implement it for me as a template. That’s now in place for us to use in the future,” he says.
“All in all, it’s been very, very easy,” James concludes. “It seems a bit of a no-brainer!”
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