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5 Email Marketing Tips to Increase Donations


Email fundraising is vital for nonprofits looking to increase donations and ignite support for their mission. With an estimated 91% of consumers checking their email daily, email marketing remains as powerful as ever. In fact, 26% of surveyed donors reported that email is the top marketing tool that inspires them to contribute, more so than social media and print advertisements.

Given email marketing can help you enhance your visibility and see an impressive ROI while communicating your mission’s message, it should be an essential component of your year-end strategy. Plus it’s a relatively inexpensive method that you can launch, measure, and optimize quickly.

From building a strong email list and personalizing content to cultivating trust and spurring action, here are five email marketing tips for organizations to better engage with supporters and increase donations for year-end and beyond.

1. Build a strong email list

The success of your email campaign begins with strong, segmented email lists. Having one master email list is great for general newsletters, but when it comes to creating successful email fundraising campaigns, segmenting your list is the key.

There are multiple ways you can segment your email list depending on your campaign, but typically email segmenting comes down to giving history. For example:

  • Supporters who have given recently
  • Supporters who are lapsed or nearing a lapsed stage
  • Supporters who give large annual donations
  • Supporters who make smaller monthly donations
  • Prospective donors

Email segments can also be broken down further by how the supporter is involved with your organization. Do they frequently attend events? Are they volunteers? Do they live locally or outside the state? For example, sending an event invitation or call for volunteers to local, involved supporters will have a much better response than if you sent it to a nationwide list.


2. Cultivate trust with your audience

Trust is imperative to securing donations, especially in an era in which nonprofit scams are on the rise. To increase your open rate and build trust with your donors, consider the following:

  • Ensure your branding and voice are consistent across all channels, including email
  • Use a fundraising email template to define your email structure
  • Send emails from a person within your organization, such as your Executive Director, instead of your organization’s name
  • Avoid including attachments and embedded forms which may be flagged as spam

Most importantly: always, always, always, respect your subscribers’ email preferences.

3. Personalize your content

Tailoring your content to donors can dramatically improve your email fundraising campaign efforts. Data shows that personalized subject lines increase transactions sixfold, and using your recipient’s first name boosts open rates by 22%.

Use specific data points—think first names, location, past activities, etc.—to:

  • Create emails that will more acutely resonate
  • Convey a conversational yet professional tone
  • Remind and thank donors for the support they’ve previously shown your organization

Additionally, take measures to ensure that you have a variety of data points to choose from for your personalizations, from donation methods and financial amounts.

4. Inspire action

Even the most well-written content may not deliver results if it’s unclear how or why recipients should contribute. So make sure that you deliver on the following points:

  • Include a clear call-to-action (CTA) such as a big, bold button to make a donation or attend an event
  • Provide statistics on how donations and participation elevate your cause and help solve an important issue
  • Ensure there are multiple ways for a donor to contribute, including signing up for monthly contributions

You can also urge your donors into action by reminding them that even the smallest contribution works toward the greater goal you share.

5. Employ best practices

To help ensure your email fundraising campaign has a positive impact on your donors, keep these nonprofit email marketing best practices in mind:

  1. Design a mobile-friendly email
  2. Display CTAs and social media icons in an eye-catching manner to inspire action
  3. Practice brevity
  4. Send emails from a recognizable email address affiliated with your organization

Moreover, consider opening your email with an informative, newsworthy line rather than immediately asking for a donation. Add context and value before you request your supporters’ time, attention, or money and you may see an uptick in contributions.

Looking to give your year-end fundraising campaign a boost?

For more year-end fundraising ideas and to download our comprehensive year-end fundraising toolbox, check out our 8 Weeks of Year-End Fundraising Resources.

Questions?We’d love to help.

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