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Effective email marketing is an essential growth tool for not-for-profit organisations (NFPs). With limited resources, a small workforce, and divided leadership attention, investing in marketing efforts can often take a back seat to more pressing matters. Email automation can help improve marketing efficiencies.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of email marketing and email automation for NFPs and how it can help you connect with donors and attract new prospects through more timely and personalised email campaigns.

Studies consistently demonstrate that email offers the highest return on investment (ROI) compared to other outreach strategies. TruConversion reports that an email marketing campaign can deliver a remarkable return of $40 for every $1 spent, making email the channel with the highest ROI for NFPs to engage prospective donors.

Furthermore, email remains a daily staple for most Australians, offering nonprofits a valuable platform to reach audiences that might need to engage more readily through social media channels.

Best Practices for Email Marketing in Not-for-Profits

1. Consistency is Key

Nonprofits often need more resources to juggle multiple priorities. However, committing to regular email sends is one of the most effective ways to grow your organisation. Establishing a content schedule for your emails can keep you organised and foster ongoing engagement with your donor base.

Implementing an “always on” email marketing strategy ensures consistent outreach without overwhelming your recipients. It doesn’t mean bombarding your list with constant messages but emphasises regular sending schedules. Sending informative emails consistently, rather than just during campaigns, helps build long-term relationships.

2. Avoid the Spam Folder

Shifting from sporadic to frequent email communication may trigger spam filters if your audience is unaccustomed to your emails. Maintain good email deliverability by:

  • Avoiding direct form embedding and attachments.
  • Sending emails from recognisable addresses.
  • Leading with informative subject lines rather than direct donation requests.
  • Informing subscribers about your intent to send more informative emails and allowing them to opt-out. Cleaning your list of disengaged recipients is vital for the long-term health of your email program.

Pro Tip: Assign a staff member to send your monthly newsletter using their name to increase deliverability.

3. Personalise Your Communication

Utilise email personalisation features to create a personal connection with your audience. Focus on personalising emails based on actions your recipients have taken on your website, such as thanking them for a donation or report download, rather than using specific personal information. This approach is less invasive and more effective.

Pro Tip: Incorporate first names and engaging taglines in your emails, as personalised subject lines generate higher transaction rates.

4. Segment Your Database

Segmented email lists ensure the right recipient receives the right message at the right time. Different recipients are at varying stages of their engagement with your organisation, and your emails should reflect this. To gauge engagement, consider factors like donation amount, event participation, and online interactions.

More engaged audience members can receive more frequent emails, while less engaged individuals should receive basic information about your NFP. Create specific drip campaigns for content downloads or newsletter subscriptions to cater to your recipients’ interests.

5. Test, Analyse, and Adapt

Email marketing is an evolving strategy. Monitor key performance indicators and adjust your approach based on real-world data. Industry benchmarks are helpful, but remember that NFPs and their audiences differ. Keep track of critical email metrics and seek trends over time to make informed decisions.

Pro Tip: Regularly monitor your email open rates using the HubSpot email health tool.

Crafting an Exceptional Not-for-Profit Newsletter

1. Compelling Subject Lines

Subject lines should be concise yet engaging, evoking a sense of urgency and specificity. When appropriate, include upcoming events and personalisation, ensuring the subject line reflects your NFP’s unique voice.

Pro Tip: Limit subject lines to 50 characters or less for mobile optimisation.

2. Informative Updates

Include the latest developments, success stories, staff updates, and relevant information to keep your audience informed and engaged.

Pro Tip: Incorporate visuals from events, with permission, to enhance the newsletter’s visual appeal.

3. Express Gratitude

Always acknowledge and appreciate the support your donors and volunteers provide, showcasing the immediate impact of their contributions with data points.

Pro Tip: Establish personalised communication with more involved donors.

4. Include a Call-to-Action

Every email should feature a compelling call-to-action (CTA) in the form of a clickable button. Encourage subscribers to take the desired action, whether it’s subscribing to the newsletter, donating, or referring a friend.

Pro Tip: Explore various CTA tools to simplify the linking process.

Email Automation 

Email automation is valuable for not-for-profit organisations (NFPs) to enhance marketing efficiencies. It streamlines and optimises email communication, enabling NFPs to achieve their goals with fewer resources and more personalised, effective engagement. Here’s how email automation helps improve marketing efficiencies for NFPs:

1. Personalised Outreach: Email automation allows NFPs to segment their email lists based on donor preferences, engagement history, and demographics. This segmentation enables personalised messaging, ensuring recipients receive content that aligns with their interests and previous interactions with the organisation. Personalisation leads to higher engagement and conversion rates.

2. Automated Welcome Series: When new supporters subscribe to an NFP’s newsletter or donate for the first time, email automation can trigger a series of welcome emails. These emails can introduce the organisation’s mission, showcase success stories, and provide opportunities for deeper involvement. The automated series ensures that new supporters are appropriately onboarded and informed.

3. Efficient Fundraising Campaigns: NFPs frequently run fundraising campaigns. Email automation simplifies the process by allowing organisations to schedule and automate campaign emails. This ensures that the right messages are sent to the right segments at the right time, eliminating the need for manual sending and reducing the risk of errors.

4. Drip Campaigns for Donor Nurturing: Email automation facilitates donor nurturing by creating drip campaigns. These campaigns consist of a series of emails that are sent based on supporter actions or a predetermined schedule. NFPs can nurture donor relationships over time with relevant content, ensuring that donors remain engaged and committed to the cause.

5. Event Promotion: For NFPs hosting events, email automation helps with promotion and communication. Automated event registration confirmations, reminders, and follow-up emails keep attendees informed and engaged. This streamlines event management and ensures a seamless experience for participants.

6. Recurring Donation Reminders: For NFPs that encourage recurring donations, email automation can send timely reminders to donors, prompting them to continue their support. This reduces the risk of missed donations and provides a consistent revenue stream for the organisation.

7. Acknowledgment and Thank-You Emails: Automated acknowledgment and thank-you emails can be sent immediately after a supporter donates. These messages express gratitude and provide transparency about how the donation will be used. This automated process demonstrates the organisation’s appreciation and professionalism.

8. Re-Engagement Campaigns: Over time, some supporters may become less engaged. Email automation can identify these supporters and trigger re-engagement campaigns. These campaigns aim to bring lapsed supporters into the fold through personalised content and targeted messaging.

9. A/B Testing: Many email automation platforms offer A/B testing capabilities, allowing NFPs to test different subject lines, content, and visuals to determine what resonates best with their audience. This data-driven approach helps refine email campaigns for better results.

10. Detailed Analytics: Email automation provides NFPs with detailed analytics and reporting. NFPs can track open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and more. These insights allow for data-driven decision-making and continual improvement of email campaigns.

11. Time Efficiency: Email automation saves time by eliminating the need for manual email sending and follow-ups. NFPs can schedule emails in advance and focus on other essential tasks, such as mission-related activities, donor relationships, and strategic planning.

12. Consistent Branding: Email automation ensures consistent branding and messaging across all communications. This professionalism helps build trust with supporters and strengthens the organisation’s image.

13. Cost Efficiency: While initial costs may be associated with implementing email automation, long-term cost savings can be significant. By reducing the manual labour involved in email marketing, NFPs can allocate resources more effectively.

Free Email Marketing Software for Not-for-Profits

If you’re looking for professional email software for your nonprofit without breaking the bank, consider these free options:

  1. HubSpot Email Marketing Software: HubSpot offers a free version that integrates with its CRM software, providing access to forms, landing pages, ads, and templates. It also offers contact management and analytics tools.
  2. ActiveCampaign: ActiveCampaign is an excellent choice for managing donor relationships with features like advanced segmentation.
  3. Sender: Sender offers extensive HTML editing, personalisation, analytics, and A/B testing.
  4. SendGrid: SendGrid specialises in tailored email campaigns focusing on personalisation and delivery optimisation.

Begin your email marketing journey today, even if you’re not a marketing professional. Thoughtfully executed email marketing can yield significant benefits for your not-for-profit. Start now and generate more awareness for your organisation than ever before!

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