Nonprofit email marketingIn November 2013, a study by the Content Marketing Institute discovered that 92% of nonprofits use email marketing alongside social media and video for their content marketing. In fact, last year, 65% of nonprofits were producing more digital content than they were in 2012.

Charitable organisations and email go hand-in-hand. If you want a quick, effective way of reaching your members and increasing the base of potential donations, it beats traditional paper-based campaigning hands down.

We think there are three golden rules you need to follow in order to make email work effectively for nonprofits:

  1. Size isn’t a factor. Unlike commercial email campaigns, the size of a nonprofit message is less of a deciding factor in how many people open and engage with it. They can be short, sharp messages, or they can be detailed explanations of the cause in question; whatever they are, providing they are well written and on topic, you’ll see good delivery and open rates.
  2. It pays to be regular. Emails sent regularly will enjoy great delivery rates and close engagement. Sporadic emails from charities and nonprofits have proven to be less effective.
  3. Frequency really does matter. Studies have found that nonprofit emails benefit from frequent sends. Weekly – or even daily – emails tend to see far higher delivery rates.


How can I get started with nonprofit email marketing?

It’s a fair question. Email marketing is as ethically-focussed as nonprofit work (or at least, it should be). Subscribers need to be gained fairly and trust earned slowly, just like you would treat those who donate or offer their free time to your cause. For that reason, building not-for-profit email subscriber lists should fit in well with your existing campaigning. If you’re building lists of members, subscribers or donors, you simply need to ensure you’re also collecting their email addresses and express permission to contact them.

How can email benefit my charity?

Email is brilliant. But, of course we’re going to say that. So, let’s back it up with some reasons as to why it is so brilliant:

  • It is one of the most cost effective forms of marketing out there. All you need is an email marketing client such as mailingmanager, a great-looking template modified to reflect your charity’s brand, an opted-in list of email addresses and… away you go
  • You can respond lightening-quick to last minute ideas for a campaign. If something happens in the news, or locally, which will link in neatly with the work you do, you can put together an email in minutes and send it out instantly to your subscribers
  • Email can be automated, allowing you to set triggers for specific events. For example, when someone joins your mailing list, you can set send them a series of automated, timed emails to introduce them gently into your world and build their trust
  • Nearly half of all emails are now opened on mobile devices. There are millions of people out there with handheld internet devices in their pockets. They’re no longer a moving target – you can contact them whenever and wherever they are with ease


Some examples of email marketing for nonprofits

Let’s consider some specific examples of how email can help charitable organisations:

  • Health and medical charities. You’ll know better than us that, depending on the type of work you do, members will often be a little candid or understandably private about their reasons for calling on you. Email is direct, unobtrusive and entirely private. You can reach them in confidence and even give them the option to respond directly to you. By segmenting contact lists, you can target specific messages at those who need to read them.
  • Animal charties. Email marketing can be easily tied in with social media. So, if you’re running a campaign on the latter and want to share a particular heartwarming tale of animal rescue or recovery, you can extend the story by email. In turn, you can also include a call-to-action (CTA) which gently encourages people to donate (for example, provide a direct link to the donations landing page on your website).
  • Political causes. If you’re working on a campaign and need to get word out there, what better way to do it than email? You can send en masse to existing and potential supporters and encourage them to share your message via social media integration.
  • International aid. Email knows no boundaries. Your subscriber lists can reach far and wide. For work which takes you all around the world, email marketing will help you get your message out there quickly and to as wide an audience as possible.
  • Educational causes. The educational sector is incredibly tech-savvy. Reaching out to members of teaching unions or supporters of school aid events is easy with email. Once again, the ability to share your messages via social media (by using convenient ‘share’ buttons within the email itself), enables you to get your message out to a far wider audience than you ever thought possible.


Have you had particular success with email and your own nonprofit campaign? We’d love to hear about it!

If you’re yet to dip your toes in the world of email marketing, mailingmanager can help. We work with a large number of nonprofits and charities and have some fantastic offers for such organisations. Find out more here.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /


Mark is one of mailingmanager's email experts. His contributions to this blog openly share the tricks, tips and best practices he's learned while running multiple e-marketing campaigns.

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