The Nonprofit’s Guide to Email Marketing

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If you work at a nonprofit organization (NPO), then you’re already quite familiar with the unique set of challenges nonprofits face when it comes to creating an effective and sustainable marketing strategy.  

With scarce sources, relatively limited staffing, and leadership attention spread slim across numerous areas, investing in cohesive marketing efforts could take a backseat to a lot more pressing matters.

But having a marketing strategy is absolutely crucial to bringing in new donors and ensuring your organization gets recognized by the best people. And the most effective (and accessible) marketing tactic NPOs can put their effort towards is email marketing.

Email marketing is far from dead — and this is especially true in the wonderful world of NPO marketing, where individualized messaging and relationship constructing are keys to success. Plus, building an email strategy is usually less expensive and time intensive than other strategies.

On this page, you’ll find out how your own nonprofit can stay associated with donors and bring in thrilled new prospects through email marketing.

Why does email work for nonprofits?

Studies show that email is constantly on the offer the highest return on investment associated with any outreach strategy, which makes it just about as close to a sure bet as you can obtain. McKinsey reports that an email marketing campaign can deliver a return of $40 for every $1 spent. This makes email the channel with the maximum ROI that nonprofits can use to reach prospective donors.

Additionally , since 91% of all ALL OF US consumers still use e-mail daily, email can allow NPOs to reach audiences that might not otherwise engage with their own marketing efforts on social media networks.  

Email Marketing Guidelines for Nonprofits

Commit to Regular Sends

Nonprofits are often stretched for resources, and it’s easy to set marketing aside meant for matters that seem more pressing. However , regular e-mail marketing is one of the most effective ways to grow your organization. A content schedule for your emails can keep you on top of them so you can steadily grow your donor base.

Making e-mail sends an “always on” part of your marketing strategy will play a big role in your achievement on the channel. “Always on” doesn’t mean that you’re bombarding your email list with constant messages — it indicates that you’re committed to consistency within how often you send your emails.

Sending useful emails on a predictable plan (instead of only when occur to be actively running a campaign or seeking donations) will help foster your audience towards much deeper forms of engagement (like giving or attending an event) in the future. Remember: the objective is building long-term romantic relationships.  

Setting the right cadence for your emails is important to maintain the members of your list engaged with your organization. For all those first starting out, this requires a careful balancing act, when you don’t want to send too few emails but you also have a tendency want to veer into possible spam territory. More on that will in the next section.

Be Wary of Spam Folders

If normal email sends are a brand new part of your strategy, and your audience is only used to hearing from you on a less-frequent, one-off basis, starting to send a lot more emails on a more frequent basis could trigger some users’ email clients to send you to the spam file.  

Email deliverability can be a complex subject, but here are a few important things to remember if email is becoming a more regular marketing and advertising outreach tool for your NPO:

  • Avoid directly embed forms or include attachments in your email messages (linking out to web pages along with forms is a better practice).
  • Send your emails from the recognizable address — if you possibly can, avoid sending from a noreply@yourwebsite. com address. Use a name your own readers will recognize.
  • Guide with informative subject ranges instead of direct calls for contributions (you can check out our website post on picking great email subject lines here).
  • If you’re starting a new email project and are sending email messages to a list that isn’t utilized to such frequent sends — let them know what’s going on! Tell your readers that you plan to start sending more informative emails, and many importantly, give them the opportunity to opt out. It might seem counterintuitive in the short term, but cleaning lumpen folks off your email list is important to the long-term health of your email program.  
  • For more tips on improving your email deliverability, check out our blog submit on the subject here.  

Leverage Individual Connections with Your Audience

Your own nonprofit’s cause is (hopefully) personal to everyone on your own email list. Personalizing your emails is one technically easy — but potentially super powerful — step that you could take to utilize that individual connection to attract donations and deepen engagement with your organization.  

First, make sure most likely using an email tool that allows personalization. It might be an investment in advance, but having access to personalization features will greatly improve the worth your audience gets out of your email sends.  

Worried about coming off as creepy or not sure where to start? Rachel Leist, the Senior Movie director of Automation at HubSpot, advises folks new to email marketing personalization to focus on personalizing email messages based on actions your e-mail recipients have taken on your site, instead of any personal information you may have collected about them within your contact management system.

Leist explains, “A good rule of thumb is to personalize around actions someone took on their web site. Personalize around things like pages that were visited, topic associated with recent conversion, and of course title and company. If a person receives an email that refers to an action they had taken on your website, they will not be as nervous as they would if you were personalizing close to specific personal information you happen to have on them. ”

Segment Your own Database

A segmented email list can help you ensure that the proper person receives the right e-mail at the right time. While everyone on your email list believes in your organization, you don’t need to send every single email to them. Each person in your database are at a different stage on their trip with your organization, and the emails they receive should reflect that.

For example , someone who has donated $5 to your organization within the last year is probably not as engaged as someone who has donated $1000 to your organization in the last month.

Factors like donation amount, events attended, and activities taken on your website or social media channels can all of the be important indicators of engagement level, and shouldn’t be disregarded when you’re sending out emails.

More engaged audience members will probably respond more positively in order to more frequent emails, whilst folks with fewer touch points should received less emails giving them more simple information about your NPO.  

Test, Analyze, and Adapt Accordingly

Finally, running a message program is not a “one and done” marketing strategy. You may not just set it up and keep doing it same thing. It requires you to take note of key performance indicators and make changes to your method periodically based on those elements.  

While industry benchmarks can be a useful starting point associated with comparison when you’re just starting to flesh out your email technique, remember that not all NPOs are the same, and not all NPO audiences are going to respond the same method to emails.

To start, keep track of a few key email metrics, measure them with each email deliver, and look for trends over time. The article on email marketing metrics for beginners offers a helpful starting place if you’re not sure what to monitor.

Examples of Nonprofit Fundraising Emails

Want to put together an effective fundraising email? Check out some examples to get a sense of what your own can look like.

Alzheimer’s Association

This email from the Alzheimer’s Association requests donations but additionally outlines several other ways that its supporters can act for its cause. However , the request for a donation remains the particular focal point of the email, having a call to action to donate and a button allowing the reader to do so featured prominently in the middle of the email.

The Trevor Project

Whenever folks first sign up for your own emails, it’s a good sign that they’re feeling engaged together with your mission. Check out this automated welcome email from the Trevor Project that introduces the organization to a new subscriber and requests a donation at the end. Your audience wants to assist – don’t make them wait!

The International Rescue Committee 

The International Rescue Panel faces the urgent task of assisting people incompatible zones and disaster locations. They waste no time in showing how subscribers can assist its mission. In this email, the IRC tells the recipient what steps they can take to make a concrete impact on their work.

The IRC knows that each of their subscribers is ready to take on a different level of commitment, so they recommend various actions that people can do to back up them, from signing up for text messages to starting a fundraiser.

The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art

Check out this email from the New York City Museum of Art for any different spin on fundraising. Unlike most nonprofit email messages, this one looks like it could have come from a department store. If your nonprofit has merchandise to sell, consider taking a cue from suppliers and create emails that display your products for a great cause.

Free Email Marketing Software for Nonprofits

Want to make use of professional email software for the nonprofit without breaking the bank? There are several free versions of expert marketing software that you can use. Take a look at what some of the most popular programs offer to find the right one for your needs!

HubSpot Email Marketing Software

HubSpot offers a free version of its paid email marketing software that will integrates with its also-free CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT software. Users can operate a sophisticated marketing campaign and get entry to forms, landing pages, plus Facebook, Instagram, Google, and LinkedIn ads, as well as themes They also have access to contact administration and live chat features to optimize the experience for each subscriber. There are also traffic and conversion analytics capabilities for campaign optimization..


Wish to reach lots of people with wonderful, personalized emails? Sender might be just right for you, as it has extensive HTML editing plus personalization capabilities. Sender also offers impressive analytics capabilities that allow you to track the delivery plus opening of individual emails. Sender also helps you build individual profiles of your recipients to further optimize your strategy.


If you’re looking for range in your emails, Sendinblue has you covered. This program includes over 70 responsive templates pertaining to emails that can be designed for any screen. The free edition also gives you the ability to deliver 300 emails a day. You also have the ability to use A/B assessment to find the right email articles that works and segmenting choices to make sure the right person receives it.


SendGrid focuses on email campaigns that are tailored in order to individual preferences. Its totally free version gives you access to an array of personalization tools, including APIs, Webhooks, STMP Relay. You’ll also have granular control over whom receives your emails having a wide range of delivery optimization tools. There are also sophisticated email editing and analytics tools where you can optimize them for your audience.

You don’t need to be a professional marketer to get professional results from e-mail marketing for your nonprofit. However , one does need to set some time apart to do it. The good news is that there are couple of other investments you can make in your organization that will pay off like email marketing. Get started today in case you haven’t already and you can generate more buzz for the organization than ever before!

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