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How to Launch an Email Marketing Campaign for Your Nonprofit That Makes People Want to Give

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Emails have long been the method of choice for nonprofits when they need to reach out. As a nonprofit, maybe you are looking for ways to innovate and revolutionize this process. The truth is that even with social media at the forefront of marketing, email still has the potential to reach more people and lead to more conversions.

So, why do you feel like your email strategy isn’t working as well as it should?

There could be many reasons, but chances are, the one that is really holding you back is that your email doesn’t grab attention or contain the best content to engage the recipient to the point that they are willing to send funds your way. You can easily turn this around and begin writing emails that equal conversions. Here’s how to make it happen.

Add A Human Touch

When you are writing your email, of course you are looking to generally target as many potential donors as possible. The more people you can reach with one email, the less resources you need to spend and the more conversions are possible. Except, that in doing this, we forget who people like to give to.

Other people.

Nobody really wants to open their wallet to an automated sounding email or another nonprofit with no personal appeal. Here are few proven strategies for humanizing your email campaign.

Use your first and last name as the sender, rather than your organization name. One study showed that this strategy resulted in a 21% increase in open rates and a 58% increase in click through rates.

Rethink the template. Normally one of the first pieces of advice you get when creating a nonprofit email strategy is to create a killer cold email template. There is evidence that maybe it is time to ditch this strategy and go with a more relaxed approach. Look at this sample from Caring Bridge.



Here, we see to side by side examples. The one on the left with a beautiful, professional template and then the one on the right that is formatted like it would be if you were sending a personal email. Which one do you think garnered more trust and had a higher click rate?

The one on the right.

We need to remember that the recipient is expecting to read an email, not something that looks like a blog page. Recipients are more likely to read, and respond to, an email that feels more like a correspondence than an advertisement.

What’s left to add a more human touch to? The content of course. Think about the emotions that people feel when they are helping others. Compassion, empathy and desire to help come to mind. How are you appealing to these emotions in the content of your email?

If you are using a robotic tone or industry jargon, you probably aren’t getting the job done. Emails that read as though you are speaking directly through them, using normal conversational language, are more effective at producing conversions than scripted sounding dialogue.

Be Succinct With the CTA

Here is where you get to the meat and bones of your email campaign. You have reached out to previous and potential donors because you want something from them. Now is not the time to get wishy washy with your request.

Clearly state what you want, ask for only one thing and make it easy for the recipient to engage.

This seems straightforward enough, but too many nonprofit requests are pushed aside because the organization either wasn’t clear on what they needed or they left too many options open for the donor. For example, CTA that contain some variant of “Anything Helps” seems open ended enough to invite donations no matter how small.

It also doesn’t specify what you are asking for. Instead try one of these CTAs

  • Make an Donation
  • Donate and Make an Impact
  • Join the Fight
  • Give to Our Cause
  • Become a Member
  • Complete Your Gift

Finally, Get Noticed

Let’s assume that your email isn’t the first that your audience has received today. This is a fair assumption, yes? Whether it is a business or personal account, many people are bombarded with emails throughout the day. The thing that is going to make the difference between your email being opened or being sent to the trash is your subject line.

Let’s look at numbers. 47% of recipients decide whether to open an email based on just the subject line alone, while 69% decide whether or not to report an email as spam based on the subject line-yikes! The wrong wording and the energy you put into that expertly crated email is all in vain.

To grab attention, your subject line needs to be three things: short, personal and action oriented. Here are few examples of subject lines that were written to be opened.

  • (Name), how many lives can you change with $50?
  • Give a gift, change a life in (local community)
  • We’re building a better community, this is what we need from you this year
  • We’re almost out of time, help us reach our goal
  • It’s been a great year at (organization). Thank you!
  • Look at what we’ve done, and help us do more.
  • Let us add (name) to our heroes list

Adopt these strategies and watch your email campaign soar.

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