Why email marketing is one of the most cost-effective way to promote your nonprofit.

It’s not unusual to see nonprofit organizations and NGOs spending more time working on their donors than with them.

Without donor engagement, the daily responsibilities become more challenging to manage. You need to find that healthy mix of human interaction with time management. Even if you’re speaking with people, those one-on-one conversations aren’t always lucrative when considering how long it takes to secure volunteerism or a donation.

One of the best steps to make your communication efforts more efficient is investing in email marketing. You can stay connected with your supports, speak with donors, and spread the word about what you do.

Do's in Email Marketing.

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Nonprofit Email Marketing – Why It Matters

Nonprofits and NGOs don’t always get their message out effectively because their time and resources are directed toward activities that support their communities. Supporters and donors are equally busy with all their responsibilities.

The messages between the two are a lot like ships passing in the night. You both know the other is out there, but you don’t always know where to find them.

Nonprofit email marketing campaigns work to shine a light on that issue. Communicating directly to potential contributors through a medium that works well for them makes it easier to get the results that both parties want.

Nonprofits and NGOs receive the financial and volunteerism support they need to support public welfare initiatives. Supporters and donors earn the satisfaction of supporting a good cause.

Since email marketing can deliver an ROI above $40 for every $1 spent in some industries putting your often limited resources toward this asset makes sense. In return, it’s possible to have your message noticed while growing the number of engaged contributors.

What Are the Benefits of Email Marketing for Nonprofits?

Effective communication is essential to the success a nonprofit can experience. Without this asset, relaying information to others, building relationships, maintaining your network, and asking for donations becomes overly complicated – or almost impossible.

When you decide to include email marketing for nonprofits in your business plan, these potential benefits become available without requiring a significant investment.

1. Reach People Quickly

Most nonprofit organizations don’t have the necessary resources to run mainstream media advertising. Even the idea of using pay-per-click (PPC) or social media ads is likely more expensive than the budget can afford. When you add email marketing to the mix, you’ll find that the cost is relatively minor.

In return, you can reach hundreds or thousands of people with an important message. Since you can personalize emails today with different features and commands, the outreach effort feels customized even when you send a similar note to everyone.

You could use traditional print media, get on the radio, or use TV, but those options don’t give you verifiable numbers.

2. Top of the Mind

When you can reach out to donors and supporters regularly, it keeps your branding at the top of the mind for each person. Drip campaigns and automation let you stick with a predetermined schedule to maintain touchpoints without sacrificing scalability. That means your mission remains a priority for each reader.

Top-of-the-mind messaging means that when someone thinks about what you do as a nonprofit or NGO, they think about your organization first.

The best way to stay there is to provide consistency. When you can develop a rhythm with your email marketing efforts, you’ll find that the engagement process is relatively simple. Here’s a sample scheduling template to consider implementing.

Email SchedulingContent to Include in This Email
DailyUse this email marketing content to update donors and supporters about your ongoing projects. For smaller organizations, this level of communication might be overkill, especially if you’re not working with clients who need updates through something like a project management system.
WeeklyThis email works well for updating people about the daily operations of your nonprofit or NGO. You can talk about the important open action items that create results within your community.
MonthlyWith this message, you can review the various projects, initiatives, and outcomes that were completed over the past 4 to 5 weeks. It’s also a great moment to discuss how your ongoing work is progressing – and if you need any volunteer support to make those things happen.
QuarterlyThis email could serve as your financial update. Being accountable for how you’re spending donor funds provides confidence in the work you’re completing.
AnnuallyEven though this message only happens once per year, providing a summary of your actions, finances, and other activities can let donors and volunteers see everything they helped to support. Most emails should be 250 words or less to make a point, but you can go a bit longer here. Another option would be to introduce the message and send the reader to a landing page with the data they want to see.

People need to know that your nonprofit or NGO cares about them. Email marketing enables that communication process.

3. Relevant Messaging

Since time is a valuable resource for nonprofit organizations and NGOs, it’s common to see template marketing occur with their outreach efforts.

A simple Google search for email templates or donor messaging delivers thousands of results. The marketing manager for the nonprofit can find an industry-related one, copy the information, and tweak it just a bit to match the branding.

When combined with spraying messages to an entire list and using prepackaged verbiage, it feels like there is value in the time saved.

Getting a donation or some extra help shouldn’t feel like a bonus. With email marketing, an expectation of success should be there. It just isn’t for many organizations because they’re using old-fashioned cold-calling tactics.

How do you create a relevant email for today’s donors and volunteers?

  • Deliver a compelling opening line. About one-third of email recipients open messages based on the subject line they see in their inbox. Personalizing that information can increase engagement by up to 20%.
  • Segment your email lists. It doesn’t make sense to send a volunteerism email to your donors, or vice-versa. Email effectiveness requires a targeted message to a specific audience to feel relevant. Think about your audience demographics, individual behaviors, or even organizational roles. Then craft messaging that makes sense for the reader.
  • Use a call to action (CTA). Emails are incomplete without including a call for the reader to take a specific action. Without this compelling content, the only thing you might earn is a click. The best CTAs are straightforward, exciting, and reduce confusion or friction points from the message.

4. Immediate Action

When your emails reach the right donor or volunteer at the right time, your email marketing efforts have the greatest chance to be successful.

This messaging creates an immediate engagement opportunity. The trick to it is to send the email at a time when that person has their inbox up or receives a notification that you’ve sent something.

Although the time of the message and the day it’s sent play a role in clicks and click-throughs (CTRs) for some industries, you’ll find that the best results typically follow B2B structures.

That means the best time for email opens is on Saturday morning. If you’re looking for clicks and CTRs to your landing pages, a Tuesday morning email works better.

When you want a response to your email, the best time to send an email is Tuesday morning at eight o’clock. Please remember to keep time zone differences in mind. If you’re in the Eastern Time Zone, sending a message at 8 AM means a Pacific Time Zone recipient receives it at 5 AM. That’s not as effective.

Every audience is a little different. Once you start getting information back on your email marketing efforts, you’ll want to look at some specific data points.

  • What is the open rate data for your messages across the last six months?
  • Do you see consistently specific days or times for opens, clicks, and responses?
  • Is your response better or worse during weekends and holidays?

Once you can determine what motivates readers to click on your emails, it’s much easier to time your efforts to reach donors and volunteers at an appropriate time.

5. Trust Enhancement

A steady communication stream works hard to provide trust and familiarity for your nonprofit organization or NGO. Those two factors are critical elements in the process of engagement building.

It isn’t as easy to secure donations or time investments without trust.

Although you can’t please everyone all the time, you can implement a three-step process to ensure each email creates as much trust as possible.

  • Personalize the message. What information interests your donors or volunteers the most? If your emails don’t captivate and inspire your audience to act, you’ve wasted your time on this effort. Think about the reader when composing your outreach efforts.
  • Keep everything simple. Sending an overly complicated email with tons of information is usually not appreciated. When readers know that you’re sending a data-dense message (like a quarterly or annual report), it’s helpful. When you send 1,500 words about your nonprofit or NGO out of the blue, most of the content gets skipped or ignored. Keep your content precise, entertaining, and valuable.
  • Make it readable on mobile. Most emails get opened on tablets or smartphones today, especially when they’re sent by nonprofits. That means your information must be readable on that device. It helps to preview what you plan to send before pushing out the message to fix potential formatting issues.

6. Traffic Generation

When your nonprofit or NGO produces engaging content through email, you can send traffic to your website. This process naturally improves your search engine optimization while encouraging readers to spend more time with your brand.

There’s a direct correlation between how long a person stays on a website with their desire to follow through with a conversion. As a nonprofit, that means you are more likely to have someone provide a donation or sign up to be a volunteer.

If you have multiple outreach efforts working to promote your organization, your website analytics can let you know where your traffic originates. That makes it easier to understand where most of your investments should be.

Email-based traffic also lets you know if you’re getting authentic traffic or something from bots. In 2014, up to 80% of a website’s visitors weren’t actual people. It’s even higher today!

By developing a meaningful outreach resource, you can generate actual leads. From there, it’s much easier to calculate what your actual ROI is when implementing an email marketing strategy.

How to Manage Email Campaigns In-House

Nonprofits are typically concerned with cost and email deliverability when investing in this marketing resource. Those are understandable worries since everyone wants to get the most value for a reasonable price.

When you decide to run your email campaigns in-house instead of outsourcing them, you can deploy your information more rapidly. There’s an increased relevance in your targeting and reader segmentation because you know your audience better, along with a lower cost of ownership.

Even if you use email platforms to send thousands of messages to your designated lists, you can eliminate the expense of outsourcing content creation, template design, graphics inclusion, and much more.

The only time outsourcing makes sense is when you have zero internal knowledge about email marketing in-house. Even then, the cost of partnering with a provider might be more than hiring someone to handle this responsibility.

For some nonprofits, turning to in-house email solutions increases the integration control and production mechanisms. You have more security because your messaging isn’t under the supervision of a third-party provider. That’s a crucial point for organizations that must comply with government regulations when sending out these messages.

Focus on relevancy with each email. Diversify your channels as needed, and focus on high-quality interactions each time.

When everything comes together for your nonprofit or NGO through email marketing, you’ll have a cost-efficient way to generate donations, volunteer hours, and other results. That’s why it’s an essential component of any outreach strategy.

By Jon Goldberg

Jon is a writer for Mailster.co. He likes hiking, sport cars and playing chess when he's not with his family.

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