Feb 2, 2022

Email Marketing For Nonprofits


Nonprofit Email Marketing Guide To Increase Your Reach

Despite the rise in social media and text message communications, many supporters still check email for updates from the organizations they care about. Mobile devices make it easy for donors to connect with your cause and mobile-friendly emails are a great way to reach supporters who may be checking their inboxes on a mobile device.

In fact, according to a recent Litmus study, more than half of all emails are opened via mobile devices so you want to be sure your organization is ready easily collect donations from email .

Videos, pictures and stories that are cross-promoted, or posted across email, social media and text message, yield highest response rates because they reach the largest percentage of donors.

Important Nonprofit Email Marketing Best Practices

People are much more likely to improve your online giving, read your content, click your links, and follow through on your calls-to-action if your email is mobile friendly.

Mobile-friendly emails contain text, headers, buttons and images that automatically resize when an individual views the email on a mobile device.

Many email marketing services like MailChimp & Constant Contact provide easy drag and drop editors that enable you to create both online and mobile-friendly versions of your emails.

Email Design Best Practice:

Keep in mind that people tend to look at images, skim the first few sentences, and click a link if your call-to-action is compelling, so keep your content short and to the point!

Important Email Marketing Stats:

Send Emails That Drive an Emotional Response

If you want to emotionally connect with supporters through their inboxes, you’ll need to do more than make your messages mobile-friendly. Donors tend to be more interested in feeling than in facts or figures, and emotions drive supporters to act.

Why does this matter?

Emails are more personal than website copy and scalable to audiences of all sizes, according to nonprofit consultant Vanessa Chase.

Need Help Creating Emails That Convert?

Checkout this nonprofit email marketing guide put together by Hubspot of 12 Nonprofit Marketing Emails That Actually Convert. Use these examples to increase your email click-through rate and your brand awareness.

Use Emails to Tell Your Story

Capturing readership for your cause means delivering compelling content, and the best way to do that is to replace your “newsletters” with personal, meaningful stories. Firsthand narratives and pictures provide concrete representations of the charitable work your cause is doing to make a difference in the world.

The most immediate—and authentic—type of story is that of a person who has been helped by your organization.

These are narratives you should collect straight from the source, as nothing is more impactful than firsthand experience. Ask beneficiaries of your cause to write their experience in their own words or, if you deal with non-human beneficiaries, compile photographs or videos that show what was done and how it helped. Don’t be afraid to appeal to the heart!

Use Email to Showcase Your Donors

Be prepared to do a little searching before you find stories so you can send emails that resonate. Don’t force the narrative—if you do this, the writing will appear disingenuous and is more likely to disconnect the readers from your cause.

It’s not imperative that you focus only on those who received help from your organization. Volunteer and donor profiles also count as compelling stories. The latter can help your donor retention efforts, according to Network for Good.

Using a stellar example of a how a benefactor helped make a good cause possible can inspire others to follow suit.

Furthermore, recognition can motivate first-time philanthropists to give online to your cause, so don’t shy away from thanking donors immediately and thoroughly—you can even tag them in your social media posts thanking them for their generosity.

Emails Must Be Simple or They Won’t Be Read

One of most important nonprofit email marketing best practices is to keep your message simple. One call-to-action is best!

Readers can’t connect to muddled words and long paragraphs, no matter how compelling the shared story is. If you stick to short sentences and keep your paragraphs tidy, you’ll keep your audience scrolling down the page.

You can also break up sections of text with an image or two. Visuals are intuitive and create a shared connection with the reader. Visuals also help anchor your story so you don’t stray from the main point.

Speaking of anchors, emails are a great way to drive supporters to your website to read more or online donation page. Instead of including a whole narrative in the body of an email, tell just the beginning before providing an external link to the rest of the tale.

And don’t forget:
33% of email recipients open emails based on subject line alone. An effective nonprofit email marketing best practice is to spend as much time working on your subject line as you do designing your entire email.


  • Make sure that you always have at least one image near the top of the email so that you can engage readers before they have to scroll.
  • For highest click-through rates be sure to link a line of text (top), your image (middle) and a button (bottom) to the URL you want people to visit. If you are asking for a donation be sure that your link, button or image goes to a mobile-friendly online donation page
  • A/B test email subject lines to 10% of your list and use the top performer for the remaining 90%. Most email marketing providers make this step easy.

Email marketing is a great way for nonprofits to affordably reach a wider audience. It’s quicker than direct mail and can enable faster responses and lead to recipients taking more action for your cause.

However, email is tricky to get right, and many messages get marked as spam. As more organizations and consumer brands use email marketing, it’s harder to stand out. Citing data from a recent eNonprofit Benchmark study, Hubspot reported that organizations are losing email subscribers more quickly than they can grow their lists. The results revealed when organizations grow their lists by 15 percent, 16 percent of subscribers leave. 

HTML email blasts can take anywhere from 4-8 hours to compose, design, code, test and send. On average approximately 30% of your donors read your emails.

So what does this all mean? Be sure to follow this email marketing guide and test your emails and see what is working and what isn’t—that way you don’t waste precious time on something that isn’t effective.

Tell your story and make the read worthwhile, and never spam your lists.


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