How Email Marketing Can Improve Nonprofit Fundraising

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How Email Marketing Can Improve Nonprofit Fundraising

Is your organization making the most of its email list? When done right, email marketing has the power to substantially boost your nonprofit’s fundraising. Time after time, we see email as one of the highest-converting channels in nonprofits’ Google Analytics reports. Yet, some organizations still shy away from using it as a tool for fundraising. You may be worried about bothering your supporters by sending too many emails, but in our experience, that is rarely the case. Assuming they gave you their email freely, your supporters want to hear from you! In fact, 26% of online donors say that they most often give as a result of email. Consequently, email is the perfect tool to drive supporters to your organization’s site to give. This quick guide will walk through three key benefits of email marketing for nonprofit fundraising and offer up actionable tips for improving your fundraising emails.

Benefit #1: Cost Effective and Efficient

Email marketing is a cost-effective and efficient way for nonprofits to communicate with donors during a fundraising campaign. Most email services these days charge by the contact and features, not by the number of emails you send.

So aside from the time it takes you to create it, sending that extra fundraising email doesn’t cost your organization anything! Email communications also typically take less time to create when compared to their print counterparts. Plus, your email list is likely a lot larger than your list of physical addresses, enabling you to reach a wider audience with your fundraising appeals.

With the time and budget that you save by sending email communications, you can reach supporters multiple times throughout the campaign to share valuable information and encourage donations.

Benefit #2: Measurable Results

While you’ll never really know how many supporters opened the print fundraising appeals that you mail out, email marketing campaigns can be tracked and measured. This can help you continuously improve your email marketing tactics over time, allowing you to send communications that are better tailored to your audience and thus achieve better results.

To start, you might track these email-related metrics, working to improve them for each email that you send:

  • Open Rate: The percentage of people who opened the email
  • Click-Through Rate: The percentage of people who clicked at least one link within the email
  • Conversion Rate: The percentage of people who clicked through to your website and completed a tracked conversion there
  • Email Bounce Rate: The percentage of emails that were unable to be delivered
  • Unsubscribe Rate: The percentage of people who unsubscribe from your email list after receiving the email
  • Revenue Generated From the Email Campaign: The dollar amount from donations through the specific email campaign

Work on increasing the open rate, click-through rate, conversion rate, and revenue by paying attention to emails that show higher or lower numbers than what’s typical for your organization. What did you do differently for that email? And what can you do to avoid or replicate those results in the future?

When it comes to the bounce and unsubscribe rates, the goal is to keep these numbers as low as possible. If you see them start to spike, that could be an indication that something in your strategy needs to pivot—be that the frequency of emails, email content, or even how you’re collecting email addresses.

Benefit #3: Increased Donations

With email marketing, you’re able to reach out to supporters multiple times and in different ways to encourage them to give and increase overall donations.

For example, you might send an email to all of your supporters letting them know about the fundraising campaign and your goals for it. You could send another email to past donors sharing a story that highlights the impact of their previous donations and encourages them to give again. A third email could share an update on the campaign and urge all donors to help you reach your goal before it ends by bidding in your silent auction. You get the picture—each additional communication offers a new opportunity for email subscribers to donate.

The possibilities are endless! But there are a few tried and true ways to encourage donations within your emails:

  • Instill a sense of urgency. Give your supporters a reason to give right now. Don’t let them put it off for later. Your reason could be the fundraising campaign drawing to a close or a time-sensitive program or service you’re collecting funds for.
  • Show impact. Let supporters know how their gift will impact your mission and share stories that demonstrate that impact.
  • Include a strong call-to-action. Make your ask with a clear and compelling call to donate within the email content, followed by a button or link to your donate page.
  • Provide multiple giving options. Educate your donors about their options in your emails and link to your donation page or other donation tools directly within the email.
  • Follow up quickly and express gratitude. Send a thank-you email immediately after someone gives to start your relationship on a positive note and set the tone for future involvement and donations.

Don’t listen to the fundraising delusions! There are many different ways to encourage donations through emails. As you experiment with different types of content and asks in fundraising emails, be sure to take note of what works and what falls flat for the next campaign.

7 Email Marketing Tips For Your Next Fundraiser 

As a bonus, we’ve pulled together a few email marketing tips for your next fundraising campaign.

  1. Build a strong email list. These are the people who will receive your fundraising emails, so you want a large and active list! Use nonprofit web design best practices to weave email sign-ups throughout your nonprofit’s website to encourage engaged visitors to sign up.
  2. Write creative and compelling content. Stop replicating emails from previous years, and instead, capture subscribers’ attention in new and interesting ways. Don’t forget the eye-catching visuals and brand elements—you might even consider a fundraising video!
  3. Personalize your emails. When possible, segment your emails and craft content that is specific to that audience. Plus, many email providers enable you to use merge tags to include personal details, like the subscriber’s first name, within your email content.
  4. Use clear calls-to-action. Subscribers should never wonder how they can help or what the next step might be. Be sure to tell them outright what you would like them to do next.
  5. Leverage an email service provider (ESP). Aside from making your list much more manageable, email service providers improve email deliverability and help ensure you’re complying with email privacy laws, among other benefits.
  6. Test and optimize your emails. Before you send an email to your whole list, test it to make sure everything works and looks like you’d expect and then fix any issues that you find. While it’s great to look at the email on a variety of different devices and browsers, at the very least, you’ll want to view the email on both desktop and mobile devices.
  7. Follow up with donors. Have a plan in place to follow up with donors on a regular basis, reaching out to share things like impact stories, statistics, program updates, and more fundraising appeals. Building a relationship with your donors requires regular communication.

Email marketing and fundraising go hand in hand, and there’s so much you can do to boost fundraising results with email. Stop holding your campaign back! Now that you know the benefits and a few tips, you’re well on your way to blowing your next fundraising campaign out of the water with the addition of a few strategic emails.

To take your efforts even further, consider working with a nonprofit website design company that can help you fine-tune your email marketing efforts and other aspects of your digital strategy. 

Best of luck with your next campaign!

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