Marketing & Promos
July 21, 2021

8 Email Marketing Tips for Nonprofits to Inspire Giving and Attract Donors

A persuasive email campaign is one of the most powerful marketing tactics in the book. It’s been used by brands and nonprofit organizations for years, and for good reason—it’s an effective way to build relationships, stay connected and mobilize a community to act.

Although social media has taken the world by storm in recent years, email marketing is here to stay as a tried-and-true promotional strategy. Not only do email campaigns help to keep your brand, cause or organization top of mind for your audience, but they can also act as a strong source of motivation for donors.

Nonprofit organizations would be especially wise to take advantage of email marketing as a tool for positive change and a means to drive donations. Since email marketing gives you a chance to weave a compelling narrative and send it directly to your reader’s inbox, it’s an excellent channel to use for storytelling, sharing important stats and figures, or even touching the reader emotionally.

“Ascend helped the Sault Ste. Marie Hospital grow their sales by 45% in month three with a robust email program.”

In addition to these benefits, email marketing is an effective medium given its flexibility. There are several formats an email marketing campaign can take including welcome emails, newsletters, surveys and many more, and most programs allow you to customize your template to fit your organization’s branding guidelines.

No matter the format, style or tone you opt for with your email marketing campaign, it’s important to spread the word about your organization’s mission in an engaging way. This will ultimately set you up for success and increase your likelihood of motivating donors to support your cause.

Tips for creating a compelling email campaign  

1. Spruce up your subject line.

An email’s subject line can make or break your campaign’s open rates, so it’s crucial to draft something that piques your audience’s interest without giving too much away. A great email subject line should be short and succinct, but also emotionally compelling and intriguing all at once. For example, call out the jackpot amount and when the campaign is closer to the deadline, include the deadline in the subject line. Using a pre-header text is also a good idea. Combined with the subject line, it can tell a very powerful story. Example: Subject – It’s back and better than ever. Pre-header – Guaranteed prize of $15,000.

2. Mind your language.

The tone of an email is also a crucial element of any email marketing campaign because it sets the emotional scene from the beginning. Be mindful of using passive language, and instead choose words that are empowering, impactful and emboldening so the reader feels inspired to take action in the moment. Focus the messaging on where the money is going versus detailing out the cause. Exclude ticket prices in the email as it helps keep the messaging clean and simple.

3. Segment your mailing list.

By separating your mailing list into groups based on your audience’s interests, demographics and other personal details, you can create more personalized messages to increase your chances of reaching a potential donor with the right message at the right time. Remember to add repeat buyers to the final deadline email campaign.

4. Get personal.

In the same vein, tailoring your email campaigns based on an individual’s name, preferences and unique personality traits will help to establish a stronger emotional connection with your audience and ultimately drive donations. There are plenty of email marketing tools that can help you craft personalized messages to help your reader feel like they’re relating to your organization on a human level.

5. Visualize it.

The power of impactful visuals and graphic design elements should not be underestimated when it comes to email marketing. A great email marketing campaign should be aesthetically pleasing, but it should also incorporate photos, graphs or illustrations to drive your message home in a visually striking way. Use a mix of lifestyle images and images focused on the prize or deadline. Use links in images as well as text in case the email application strips off the images. Allow plenty of white space for the key messages to stand out.

6. Tell a good story.

Behind every nonprofit organization is a compelling narrative that will tug at any donor’s heartstrings. Use your email marketing campaign as a chance to share this backstory with your audience and continue building that empathetic bond.

7. Stick to one call-to-action.

These days, most people are highly sensitive to marketing materials that feel like marketing materials, so more than one CTA may turn your readers off. Instead, try to think of your email campaign as another storytelling channel rather than a tactic, and only incorporate one CTA, preferably at the top of the email.

8. Analyze performance.

Once you’ve shared your impactful email campaign with the world, be sure to track its performance so you can learn how to improve on your work. Take a look at metrics like the open rate, click-through rate and bounce rate so you can determine which messages are resonating most with your readers.

Email marketing is a key method of building your organization’s narrative, connecting with key stakeholders and driving donations. With an effective email campaign and the right implementation partner by your side, you can boost your chances of success and ultimately meet or surpass your fundraising goal.

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