5 Ways to Use Email Marketing to Tell Your Nonprofit's Story

Is your nonprofit's email communication with your list disorganized and sporadic? Do you have trouble coming up with things to say? Are you more focused on communicating with your followers on social media?

If your answer is 'yes' to these questions, you may want to consider developing an email storytelling strategy! 

Why? Here's one stat for you: 

Social media consulting company Edgerank Checker found that between February 2012 and March 2014, a Facebook page’s organic reach (the reach of non-boosted posts) dropped from 16 percent of its fan base to 6.5 percent. Meanwhile, MailChimp found that the average open rate for nonprofit email marketing is 25.96%!

That 26% could be better, but it's clear that successful email marketing campaigns reach their intended recipients, reach specific benchmarks, and offer timely results. More so than social media at least. 

Email marketing also offers nonprofit organizations an excellent way to share the story of the nonprofit, which is an essential part of building support, visibility, and donations over time.

Email Marketing is a Delicate Operation

Without careful planning, all email marketing campaigns can suffer from accidental delivery into SPAM folders, ineffective subject lines that lead to immediate deletion, and poorly timed responses that miss the mark for membership renewals, scheduled events, and fundraising deadlines.

However, when correctly done, email marketing is an essential tool for nonprofits that want to spread the word about the organization's history or mission in a personal and direct way. Social media marketing is a tool for the masses, and email marketing is a tool for highly personalized communication.

Here are some of the benefits of email marketing for nonprofits:

  • Build personal relationships with donors
  • Expand social media reach and sharing
  • Help reach fundraising goals in a timely manner
  • Increase one-on-one communication
  • Offer donors information/education on the cause

While it's true that a viral social media post can spread like wildfire, a successful email marketing blast can provide even more support for your fundraising campaign. Here are five ways to design an effective email campaign for your nonprofit organization.

1. Create a targeted email blast to a portion of your list.

Every email you send out shouldn't target your entire list. Retaining subscribers on your list means contacting them in a manner that suits their personal level of engagement. Personalized messages may not appeal to your entire email list, and your subscribers only need to read your organization's story once. Targeted emails may also offer better engagement levels.

2. Tell your story once, and don't repeat yourself.

One of the first contacts you have with your email list might be when you share the history of your organization or your mission and story. You don't need to educate long-time donors, volunteers, or subscribers on your nonprofit's goals and mission. Increase the likelihood of recipients opening your message by avoiding repetitive emails.

3. Give readers clear steps for what to do next.

Even if your email is a simple "getting to know you" communication, the call-to-action (CTA) is one of the most important links you can include. While your purpose in sending the email might be to educate your readers about your organization, you should always deliver the information alongside a link that will offer more information or take the reader to a donation page.

4. Send the email at the right time for your purpose.

You must get to know your email subscribers – who may be your source of volunteers and donations – and tailor your emails to their attitudes, temperaments, and habits. Over time, you'll want to examine your reports and statistics and take note of what emails garner the largest responses and the time of day when you sent those emails.

5. Create a specific goal or reason for sending the email.

A targeted email must have a strong purpose, or it will end up in the virtual trash bin faster than you can press the "delete" button. Ask yourself why you're sending an email out and make sure you've crafted an email with relevant information that has the potential to spur recipients into action.

Want to learn more about nonprofit email marketing? Sign up below for my email course on attracting followers to your NP organization!