Email marketing is a powerful way to connect with your supporters. By emailing your supporters, you can build relationships, create a strong sense of community, and maximize fundraising for your organization. In fact, compared to popular channels like social media and digital ads, email marketing has the highest average ROI of 3600%, or $36 for every $1 spent.
To make your emails as effective as possible, you’ll need a strong email marketing strategy. Refining your communications with supporters will help your nonprofit make better donation appeals that are guaranteed to inspire action and bring you closer to hitting your fundraising goals. While developing a winning email marketing strategy takes time and can feel overwhelming, the right strategies will streamline the process.
Use these essential marketing tips to tap into email’s vast potential for nonprofit growth:
Whether you want to advertise your latest fundraising event or bring attention to your annual fundraising campaign, a well-developed email marketing strategy can take your fundraising to the next level. Let’s begin.
Build your contact list
Before you can send out emails, you need to ensure you have enough contacts. After all, how can you boost fundraising for your in-person or virtual fundraiser if you only have a couple of supporters you can reach?
Create a simple form that invites supporters to plug in their email address to sign up for your email newsletter. Expand your contact list by advertising this form in the following ways:
- Social media. Create engaging graphic design advertising your email newsletter and the various benefits of signing up, such as staying up to date on your nonprofit’s events and feeling more connected to your mission. Ensure you’re posting on platforms relevant to your target audience. For example, while TikTok may appeal strongly to Gen Z, older generations may be more likely to see your content on Facebook.
- In-person events. At your nonprofit’s next event, pass around flyers that feature a QR code for your email sign-up form. Infuse your branding into the flyers and make them visually appealing to motivate people to sign up.
- Your nonprofit’s website. Create a clear call to action (CTA) on your home page directing users to sign up for your emails. To grab your website audience’s attention, highlight your CTA in a bold color or increase the font size. You can also embed the link to sign up for your emails in your nonprofit’s “Stay Connected” or “Get Involved” tab.
Taking the time to build your contact list is essential, so use a multi-channel marketing approach to reach as many people as possible. Remember to highlight the perks of receiving your organization’s emails so your supporters are more willing to sign up.
Create email segments
To make your communications as effective as possible, segment your audience into different subsets. Email segments help you create relevant and personalized communication experiences so donors are more likely to give.
For example, let’s say your nonprofit wants to tap into peer-to-peer fundraising and encourage supporters to make their own DIY fundraising campaigns. Your nonprofit can create an email segment targeting your most involved volunteers, major donors, or simply your most connected supporters, as these individuals are all likely to be great nonprofit influencers or ambassadors for your campaign.
You can also create email segments when asking for donations. Instead of sending a generic donation request to all of your supporters, create targeted appeals and segment your contacts based on the following factors:
- Frequency. You may have donors that only give once a year or donors that give several times a year. Segmenting by frequency can help you tap into your supporters’ unique motivations for giving and encourage them to give more often. For instance, you can send a targeted message to frequent donors requesting that they sign up for your monthly giving program.
- Recency. Take a look at how long donors have been giving, whether they’ve been there since your organization’s founding or if they’ve recently started supporting your cause. This can help you determine the type of message that is most appropriate for different audiences. For example, you can send a welcome series to new donors introducing them to your nonprofit and different ways they can get involved.
- Amount. Your nonprofit can segment their supporters into the following categories: small donors, mid-level donors, major donors, and planned donors. This will help you structure your donation appeal in a way that’s most relevant for your audience. For example, you may ask a small donor to give $10, but this appeal wouldn’t be relevant to a major donor.
With the right email provider, you can sync your constituent relationship management software to group similar donors together and better understand your donors’ giving behaviors. Do your research to find a platform that fits within your budget and allows you to easily generate segmented email lists.
Once you have a robust contact list and email segments, you’re ready to create your donation appeals. Your nonprofit has to craft a compelling case for supporting your organization in order to motivate donors to give. A tried and true method is to incorporate storytelling into your emails.
Your story should highlight the problem your organization is trying to solve, the work it’s doing currently to tackle this issue, and how donors can be a part of the solution. One way your nonprofit can achieve this is by bringing attention to an individual you recently supported and how their life was improved by your assistance.
For example, if you’re an animal welfare organization, you can highlight a stray dog your nonprofit saved and placed in its forever home. Make your story appeal to donors’ emotions by using vivid imagery and photos. This will help donors feel more connected to your cause and eager to support your nonprofit’s important work in the community. Always end your emails with a strong call to action so donors know next steps they can take to be a part of the solution.
After sending out your donation appeals, you’ll need to follow up with donors and recap how your fundraiser went. According to the OneCause guide to virtual fundraising, your nonprofit should send highly personalized thank-you emails that express your gratitude and explain the impact of their support. While you shouldn’t immediately send them another donation appeal, you can invite them to learn about other ways to get involved by exploring your website.
To boost donor retention, your nonprofit needs to add email marketing to its toolkit. A strong email marketing strategy can help your organization meet its fundraising goals and set up a reliable revenue stream. Take the time to build your contact list and understand donors’ behavior to make effective email lists. Then, you’re ready to send off compelling emails that emphasize your organization’s need for support!
About the Author
Sarah Sebastian is the Director of Corporate Communications at OneCause. She’s a marketer and brand geek at heart with eight years of experience in the nonprofit tech space. Outside of work, Sarah can be found reading, hiking, kayaking, volunteering for Florida Access Network, or getting lost in the woods while photographing birds.