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The Nonprofit Email You’re Probably Not Sending

(But You Should!)

Fundraising emails are great, but try sending this one first!

The Nonprofit Email You’re Probably Not Sending

Nonprofits send a lot of emails. They’re highly customizable, free, and can be sent to a huge group. They’re also effective fundraising tools. It makes a lot of sense that many nonprofits rely heavily on fundraising emails to help them hit their goals.

In fact, studies show that nonprofits send fundraising emails two to three times more often than they send any other type of email. And this tracks with what you’d expect.

But what if there’s another type of email that could help you even more? There is, and it’s not sent out nearly as often as fundraising emails.

Rethink Your Strategy

There’s not a problem with fundraising emails unless they’re the only emails you send. Over-reliance on solicitation emails can be exhausting for your donors, who might disengage or even unsubscribe. Furthermore, there’s no real connection being built; donors can feel like an ATM rather than a partner.

Nurturing your donors through a series of carefully crafted communications that match their stage of the donor journey will build relationships. Your donors will make the decision to support your nonprofit well before you ask!

Having an engagement strategy that includes fundraising, rather than just a fundraising strategy that includes engagement, is a pivotal decision that nonprofits can make. It ensures that you’re in sync with the donor journey, providing the right message at the right time, and gently encouraging supporters to move from awareness all the way through the funnel.

Create an Engagement Email Campaign

When planning your next campaign, frontload it with a focus on educating potential supporters about your mission, sharing real-world stories that drive home where the need is greatest. Then, craft communications that highlight the different ways your nonprofit addresses this need.

In this way, you’re telling donors a story. You’re illuminating a case that needs help. If you can deliver a compelling need story, you then present your nonprofit as how donors can impact the need. Finally, you’re giving them the chance to help through a donation. (And beyond that, you’re evaluating the health of your nonprofit and building or maintaining a strong sustainer program.)

Ten Top Tips for Engagement Emails

Planning an engagement campaign that hits the right notes with prospects is a little easier if you lean on lessons learned and best practices.

  1. Commit to sending emails at a regular cadence to keep your audience engaged.
  2. Take the time to create compelling subject lines for your emails. If, for example, you’re sending an email showing how support has impacted your mission, it’s easy to use a catchy headline like “Let’s See What You Did Today!”
  3. Use personalization to ensure donors feel you’ve curated content specifically for them.
  4. Shake it up so you send updates, success stories, volunteer opportunities, news about big events, and content that educates supporters about your mission.
  5. No matter what content you send, provide value. Put yourself in your donors’ shoes: What is interesting? What is compelling?
  6. As silly and outdated as this advice might be, optimize your emails for mobile viewing. When emails are optimized and have responsive design, you retain a lot more eyeballs.
  7. Plaster your brand all over the email. You want to develop a tone of voice and a look and keep them consistent. When we see a swoosh, we think of shoes. What is your signature?
  8. Always segment your audience. It’s an often-used example, but donors in their twenties will respond to different messages than donors in their seventies. Look at demographics, interests, donation history, and engagement level.
  9. Once you’ve identified donor segments and donor personas, use multichannel outreach to engage them in the way most likely to resonate with them.
  10. Consider your call to action. You’re not asking for donations, so what else might they want to do? We recommend asking supporters to sign up for your newsletter! (Hint hint)

Measure and Tweak

As with any campaign, rely on data to see what works. This marketing trick can help nonprofits with donor outreach, fundraising, or engagement. What are some common metrics you can check?

  • Click-through rates are more informative than open rates. Try a few different calls to action and see which ones get more clicks.
  • A/B testing is a marketing workhorse. Change the content or subject line of half your emails to see which one gets better engagement.
  • Solicit feedback through feedback loops (asking them to reply to your email with feedback, then replying to them when you address the feedback) or even surveys using your fundraising software.

These three tested tips will help you stay informed about how your engagement efforts are working.

Engagement Emails Form Lasting Donor Relationships

Of course, you can send fundraising emails, and of course, donors understand you’re raising money for a good cause. But when you overlook engagement emails instead of solely focusing on fundraising emails, you’re missing the opportunity to form stronger, longer-lasting relationships with your donors. You’re missing the chance to enhance your nonprofit’s sustainability.

Behind every nonprofit team member and every donor is the same thing: a human being. Every now and then, toss fundraising out the window and get to know your donors. Thank them for supporting your mission, and ask them questions that will help you move them through the donor journey.

If you’re already knee-deep in your engagement campaign, congratulations! And if you realize you need to get started, these tips should help. If you want to chat more about emails or nonprofit fundraising or donor engagement, give us a call. We’d love to help!

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