Elk NetworkEmail: The Cheapest Form of Communication

Volunteer News | August 20, 2012

Email: The Cheapest Form of Communication

By Brian “Sol” Soliday, Former Colorado State Chair

The 21st century has brought an onslaught of ways to communicate electronically, and email in particular is a quick, easy and inexpensive way for people to stay in touch and share information.

A few years ago the Colorado State Leadership Team set goals to 1) enhance our volunteer email list and 2) build an overall RMEF Colorado membership email list. The results of our efforts included communicating monthly with our volunteers, and providing our new Elk Country Insider state newsletter to Colorado members at zero cost. The following year, we set a new goal to expand our state membership email list, and saw an increase of email addresses of 40 percent!

Creating, building and using email lists to communicate with your state’s RMEF volunteers and members saves time and significantly trims your paper, printing and mailing costs. Here’s how to get started:

First, have the leadership team member responsible for communications begin building a volunteer email list from each big game banquet committee’s contact information list. Then send the list to all the chapter chairs in your state and ask them to add any additional names and contact info for those people who help at a banquet but are not necessarily a formal committee member.

Once you have compiled a master list, save it as a separate “volunteers only” contact list and use it only for activities that are specific to volunteers (such as workshops, field work, events, etc.). Be sure to refresh the list on a regular basis. The most efficient approach is to have your regional director provide you with the updated committee lists soon after each chapter holds their banquet. 

Next, request your state’s most current membership list (in Excel format) from your regional director. Send an initial email message to those members who have already provided their email addresses. Include information about an RMEF project or issue specific to your state or region. This is critical to making your email stand out, because they may already be receiving other RMEF communications that are broader in scope. Inform them that they will be receiving periodic, similar emails about RMEF activities in their state/region in the future.

Track those email addresses that bounce (undeliverable), as well as requests for address changes, and make those adjustments to your master list. Send your changes to RMEF headquarters via your regional director so updates can be made to the national membership list. After the info is updated in Missoula, headquarters will forward the current membership list back to your regional director. Include this step each time you send an email blast to your membership to help keep your master list updated.

Once you have your volunteer and membership master email lists created, it’s time to put them to work. Remember, though, to keep your email blasts to a minimum. People get a lot of emails, and we don’t want to overload them. Send out a maximum of one blast per month to your volunteers, and one per quarter to your membership. And, don’t forget to always provide instructions at the end of the message explaining how to opt-out of receiving future emails. This is as simple as suggesting they respond to the message with “unsubscribe” in the subject heading.

We realize that we are still not reaching all of our members using this email-only method, but it is the most cost effective approach there is to get the word out about what’s going on with RMEF in Colorado, particularly when it comes to distributing our state newsletter. Why not give it a shot?