All startups have to get creative with their marketing to keep budgets lean…

…but when you’re responsible for getting donations to deserving parties, you need to be a total bootstrapping machine.

We’ll look at five email marketing strategies for nonprofits that will help reach new people, build a loyal donor base and encourage more donations without pushing up the budget.

In this article, you’ll learn about the following email marketing strategies for nonprofits:

  1. Building and segmenting your email list
  2. Personalization
  3. Retention
  4. Keeping Up the Momentum
  5. Creating a Personal Rapport

Let’s dig in.

1. Collect as Much Detail as Possible

Asking people to support or donate to a particular cause is a sensitive issue and the better you understand who you’re talking to, the more effectively you can handle that conversation.

First of all, never buy email lists. Better to grow your list gradually over time using website signup forms, social media channels and so on.

This means you know the people you’re speaking to actually care about the cause, but just as importantly, it means you can ask them for information on who they are, what they do for a living, what their donation preferences are, their motivations for giving – and segment your list accordingly. Integrating with a CRM like Salesforce will help you to further flesh out this data and keep it up to date.

Having a complete picture of who each donor is means you can make a judgement call about how much money it’s appropriate to ask for and at what intervals, which campaigns are likely to speak to them the most, how to pitch your appeals, and so on.

2. Personalize Your Messaging

Research shows that personalising emails increases the chance of donating by 78% and your open rates by 29%. That’s huge.

When developing your email marketing strategies for nonprofits, personalisation really is crucial in the nonprofit sector. You’re relying on people feeling moved, personally responsible and empowered enough to make a change that they will hand over money with no direct benefit to themselves. That means you need to show each person you contact that you are speaking to them.

Using someone’s name in the email body and/or subject line is a good start, but the more details and precise you can be about thanking people individually and involving a donor in a campaign they’ve contributed to, the stronger those bonds of loyalty will be.

Personalisation also means being super-smart about how you use the data you’ve carefully collected and segmented. Analyze people’s motivations for giving, and draw up campaigns accordingly.

For example, are they inspired by a vision for social change? Are they moved by a moral obligation to give? Are they persuaded by the tax benefits of giving to charity? Understanding their motivations means you can send far more effective emails.

3. Keep People Involved for the Whole Process

Don’t just email your list when you need donations. When you’re implementing email marketing strategies for nonprofits, retention is so much more effective than constantly onboarding new supports; especially when, as we’ve seen, so many hinges on their personal affinity and loyalty to the cause.

Send regular emails updating donors on how their money is being spent and thanking them for their support. Encourage them to trust you by finding smart ways to visualize the whole process of the project and the stage their money is at; it will show that you’re committed to transparency and financial responsibility.

4. Focus on Momentum Rather than Despair

Okay, there are times when an urgent appeal means you can’t find a positive spin, but generally speaking, it helps to frame your campaign as a way to continue awesome work rather than another wave of disaster.

Sadly, feeling hopeless about the situation doesn’t often persuade people to give you more money. Hearing that they’ve already helped to make a difference and now you’re going to use that proven strategy to improve many more lives, or that you need a push to get to the next big milestone, on the other hand, gets people feeling optimistic and enthusiastic about their donation.

Again, it helps if you’ve been smart about sending regular email updates to stay top of mind!

5. Use Personal Stories

When you’re looking at an overwhelming problem, it’s easy for people to forget the real, individual lives that are impacted as a result. By using case studies and individual accounts of those affected by the issue or supported by your work, you help donors to focus their empathy and feel personally connected to the campaign.

Interviews and reports are great, but using plenty of images and videos in your email campaigns will really help engagement. Just make sure that your email marketing platform helps you to manage image sizes to avoid overloading inboxes. For tips on using video in your emails, click here.

This might sound like a lot of extra work for your email campaign; but, if you’re smart, these email marketing strategies for nonprofits will save you time, money and stress while yielding better results. Just make sure you’re using an email marketing platform that gives you easy ways to build beautiful emails, incorporate personalization, and automate as much as possible.

That way, you can focus on what really matters: crafting compelling stories that persuade people to support your vital cause.

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