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Inbound Marketing

5 Tips for Using Email Marketing to Increase Your Nonprofit’s Donations

Nonprofit organizations often find themselves in the continuous cycle of attracting new donors in order to keep their services not only running, but growing. The marketing funnel for finding and retaining donors works similarly to the buyer’s journey. The same journey you would take when looking to purchase a new car, for example.

Just as you do your research reading about safety features, gas mileage, online reviews and even building a new car online, your donors are engaging with your brand and website before they are donating to your cause.

Read More: Stalled Out for Blog Content? Follow the Buyer’s Journey

Gradually you may start receiving emails from car manufacturers you previously visited online with information on pricing and local dealerships to visit. You are being nurtured with content the same way you should be nurturing your current donor base and those that have expressed interest in your organization.

Anytime you receive contact information from a visitor on your website, this is your lead to nurture. This contact is the starting point for developing a relationship that will hopefully lead to involvement and donations through lead-nurturing email campaigns.


Here are 5 email tips to help turn potential donors into actual donors, or existing donors into repeat donors:


Tip #1 Develop and Delight

Avoid the temptation to constantly ask for money—no one likes to be in a relationship with someone who is constantly asking but never giving! Your organization has much to offer and should regularly be developing relationships with members through useful and delightful content - stories of hope, exciting news and happenings, invitations to events, and thanks for their past involvement. You probably believe that your supporters are genuinely special and important, so tell them and work on deepening your connection and relationship.

Read More: 4 Ways to Recruit Volunteers with Inbound Marketing

Tip #2 Tailor Your Message

When possible, find out the motivation your supporters have for being part of your cause. This information might come through a survey when they initially download content from your site or from an email follow-up. This information will help to you better understand what ways you can connect with your potential donors and lead them closer to becoming donors (or giving again).

This information may come through several tailored marketing campaign tracks:

  • Informational. Keeping your audience informed helps to prepare potential donors to give as they learn more.
  • Re-engagement. Leads who have gone cold may be brought back around through this type of campaign.
  • Top of the Mind. Keeping your organization in the forefront of your leads’ minds is the goal. You can accomplish this by sharing your fundraising goals and progress or by showcasing how past donations have supported your cause.
  • Promotional. Draw out donors who might be on-the-fence with enticing campaigns and special offers for getting involved. For instance, what do your top donors receive for recognition?
  • Opportunities. If you know what draws a donor to your organization then you might be more effective in soliciting donations if you offer options. Allowing donors to give to a particular project that they identify with may help you to coax out a larger amount than a donation into a “general” fund might.

Tip #3 It’s All About Timing

Aligning your timing with a potential donor’s giving journey is the structure to use for scheduling email campaigns. Every step of the way, the next email sent out is based on the action that the donor takes.

For instance, at first signup a new lead receives a thank-you email for signing up along with some information about your project. If this email is opened, your automation platform automatically sends another email four weeks later with more information or a news update. If this email is not opened, this contact may be moved into a different status for a re-engagement campaign at a later date.

The design and specifics of the campaign all depend on your organization's preferences and the status of your connections. Whether you’re converting small donors to larger ones, or single donors into repeat donors, there’s an email campaign that can be created for that. But however they look, these campaigns are long-term investments that are seeking to build relationships over the span of several months, providing information and building trust.

Tip #4 Workflow Automation

Rather than having to organize and keep track of this process all on your own, your organization can work smarter and utilize tools to create lead nurturing campaigns that function virtually on their own. Choosing an automation platform is critical for making these emails happen on their own at the proper time. Our recommendation for a system that offers all the needed support and works well with email campaigns is HubSpot, but other software is also available.  

Tip #5 Refine Your Message

Continually evaluating your results and statistics will allow you to determine what you are doing that is effective and what could use some tweaking. Run A/B tests on your calls to action or subjects lines to decide what works. The beauty of A/B testing is that your emails become fluid rather than static, so you are constantly adjusting to meet the needs of your donors.

To find out more or schedule a marketing consultation for your nonprofit organization, contact us.

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