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5 Best Practices Of
Email Marketing For
Non-Profit Organizations

Sara Hs

Written by Sara Moulton 30 July 2019

email marketing best practices gamification

For better or worse, email marketing helps organizations connect and engage their audience.

In fact, the return on money invested in email marketing is 4,400%, or US$44 for every US$1 spent. 😲 This shows an opening, especially for non-profit organizations and NGOs, to strategically encourage contributions with email marketing.

For nonprofits and NGOs, email marketing is an opportunity to educate, inform, and excite your audience. Non-profit organizations or NGOs can reach their audience more easily and directly with email marketing and ensure that they are engaged. Email marketing can help reach fundraising goals, increase social shares, personalize the brand and experience, build rapport with donors, and educate supporters.

However, there is a risk of emails not being delivered because they are defined as spammy. In fact, non-profit organizations lose a shocking amount of potential contributions; the EveryAction 2019 Email Deliverability Benchmarks Study found that average non-profit loses US$21,000 due to emails caught in spam filters. 

Mailchimp, a marketing platform most well-known for its email marketing tool, has helpful tips on how to avoid emails being marked as spam. We’ve also compiled a list of ways to make content relevant so it’s more likely to be delivered to your community in your organization’s database. 

5 ways to attract attention with
email marketing

1. Provide value 

Just like other types of content like blog posts, e-guides, or webinars, email marketing should offer interesting and valuable insights to readers. It can be in the form of a story or an offer, but good copy and clearing writing are important. 

2. Engage audience with gamification

Use gamification as a tool to entice readers to engage with your brand or business. It can be a link to a game embedded into the newsletter that’s meant to activate your audience, educate, or update them.

Gamification makes experiences memorable. Inherently, any type of game is psychologically interesting. It allows humans to compete and have fun. Non-profit marketing professionals should also take the opportunity to market to their target audience in a way that will resonate with them. For example, Millennials value experiences over physical products and Generation Zers like engaging content like video. And more mature generations like Baby Boomers will be more receptive to reading text. 

3. Make it personal

Personalizing the experience for your audience can be as easy as using the automation feature that inserts the receiver’s name in the subject or first line of the email. Author Dale Carnegie, best known for his words on self-improvement, once said, “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”  In fact, a 2014 study found that personalized emails can generate transaction rates (donations) up to six times more compared to a generalized email

This is also backed up by Campaign Monitor, which found that 74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement, and they see an average increase of 20% in sales when using personalized experiences. 

4. Choose the right content style for the newsletter

This requires experiments to see what type of content is best received by your audience. For some audiences, visuals and more traditional marketing emails will be better received. For others, plain text emails that are brief and direct will work best. Brian Dean from Backlinko is a great example of succinct emails that have a clear CTA and convert. 

5. Remember your donors 

Don’t forget about re-engaging current subscribers and audience back into the customer journey loop.

Source: Adapted from OMD, “Eco-system,” 2014.

According to data from Litmus, the average person spends only 11.1 seconds on average reading an email. Therefore, a non-profit’s email marketing has to be eye catching to ensure that your cause stays top of mind for past and potential donors.

Recent research also found that repeat donations are becoming more popular. 37% of donors who made a gift online in 2017 donated online again to that nonprofit in 2018, which is a 34% increase from new donors who have a retention rate of just 25%. So it pays (literally) to keep former donors involved in your customer journey.  

Final thoughts

Email marketing is ideal to update donors or potential donors on what’s changed in your organization, recent or exciting accomplished, and what the focus will be for the next quarter or year. This informs donors as well as activates your base. It also might be an organic way to build social media buzz  around your non-profit organization. According to QuickSprout found that email subscribers are 3.9x more likely to share your content on social media. Coupled with effective emails, nonprofits can engage, inform, and convert their audience. 

Happy emailing! 

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