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Four tips to make the most of your nonprofit email campaigns

Someone clicking an email on their phone

Your nonprofit email marketing strategy helps acquire new supporters, engage your current support base, and gain traction on priority initiatives. Email is often the backbone of nonprofit marketing campaigns. Around 99% of email users check their inboxes on a daily basis, making this one of the most likely messages your supporters see. 

Let’s walk through four engagement tips to help you make the most of your nonprofit email campaigns: 

  1. Personalize and segment email messages.
  2. Use A/B testing to assess different strategies.
  3. Create several types of outreach messages.
  4. Use email addresses to reach supporters on multiple platforms.

Email provides a great opportunity to personalize messages and ensure relevance for your reader, which brings us to our first tip for more effective email campaigns. 

1. Personalize and segment email messages

Unlike social media posts, email marketing is unique in that each message can be personalized. You can address your supporters by name and ensure they’re only receiving the messages most relevant to them.

The first step to develop an impactful nonprofit marketing strategy is to define your audience. Marketing messages are better received when personalized to the recipient. In fact, 72% of consumers say they only engage with personalized marketing messages. 

Adding personalization strategies to your email marketing campaign greatly increases the chances that your emails will be read rather than falling into the dreaded trash can. Use the data you have collected about your supporters to personalize the messages you send to them. Consider the following personalization strategies: 

  • Segment your supporters based on key information. Long-term donors, first-time supporters, and volunteers are some common segments you might reach with specific, targeted messages. 
  • Auto-fill personal information in messages for supporters. You may auto-fill their names in the introduction, a donation amount in the thank-you letter, or the campaign they supported in the past for an impact story. Be sure you double-check your automation before sending these messages to avoid any technical errors. 

Data is the key to unlocking email personalization. You need to know the details about your organization’s supporters to reference them in messaging. Save the information your supporters submit (name, contact information, preferences, motivations, etc.) through donation forms, event registrations, and surveys. 

2. Use A/B testing to assess different strategies

It can be challenging to understand exactly what strategies are best to engage your specific audience. Experimenting with A/B testing can provide concrete proof of which strategies are most effective. 

A/B testing allows your nonprofit to test different elements of your nonprofit email marketing messages to see what works best. You might decide to test: 

  • The graphic design or layout of your messages.
  • Specific details or phrasing to include in your content.
  • Different design or phrasing for your call to action.
  • The email subject lines you’re using.

Before you start testing, determine your key performance indicators (KPIs). This will help you evaluate what is successful as you’re testing different elements. Test one element at a time to better understand its impact on specific KPIs. 

For example, you might A/B test subject lines to see they impact your open rate. Or, try testing a couple of different calls to action to see what increases your click-through rate. 

3. Create several types of outreach messages

One of the pitfalls many organizations run into when developing their email strategies is repeating the same type of solicitation. Rise above this wearisome strategy so that your supporters look forward to the emails you send on a regular basis.

Variety captures and maintains your supporters’ engagement. So plan on sending a number of different types of emails to your supporters while also remembering to segment and personalize the messages you send. Consider these message types: 

  • Welcome emails for new supporters.
  • Donation solicitations.
  • Appreciation messages to long-term supporters.
  • Newsletters with organizational updates. 
  • Impact stories discussing various nonprofit activities.
  • Information about upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, and more.

Not only does varying information keep supporters on their toes, but it also shows them a variety of ways in which they can get involved with your organization.

4. Use email addresses to reach supporters on multiple platforms

Email is best used alongside other outreach strategies to create a multi-channel marketing campaign. For example, if a supporter sees your email outreach, then receives an ad for your cause, you’ve increased exposure to your brand name and opportunities.

Email mapping allows you to target your email recipients with advertisements promoting your nonprofit. This strategy allows you to leverage cookies from the email addresses you have on file for your supporters to target supporters with ads. These ads show up in the margins of articles and websites across the web, reminding supporters of your organization’s initiatives.

As you launch these campaigns, keep the following tips in mind: 

  • Remind supporters of what they’ve read in recent emails. Keep the message short and succinct. 
  • Be sure the calls to action are complementary. Promote the same campaign or opportunity for engagement. 
  • Use an eye-catching design to capture attention. GIFs and moving graphics are great ways to catch people’s eyes. 

Track the metrics for both your nonprofit email campaigns and your ads. The evidence will likely show that they work well hand-in-hand to engage supporters. 


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  • Peter Maxwell says:

    October 10, 2022 4:08 am

    Churches like make excellent use of online platforms today. I simply search the internet for Christian sermons whenever I want to read or watch one. I can state that this is one area in which the internet is truly beneficial and useful.

  • Livelihood and Environmental Action Network (LEAN) says:

    October 9, 2022 12:48 pm

    thanks for this insightful article on emailing, believe it will work tremendously for our organization.

  • Kate, Digital Communications Manager, Candid says:

    October 7, 2022 1:05 pm

    We don't have a volunteer recruitment platform, but there are platforms out there like Catchafire. Learn more here:

  • Santigie Kargbo says:

    October 6, 2022 12:08 pm

    Hello from Sierra Leone, am asking for you to create a way so that nonprofits, will be able to get volunteers. By doing so a lot of our organization will be able to receive funds because these volunteers, maybe will engage in developing, a website, creating a campaign, and even developing a project.
    We the afflicted children's development organization are looking for your cooperation. We need volunteers.