By Jeff Kline


9 Email Marketing Ideas for Nonprofits

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

As I mentioned in last week’s post, email marketing can play a significant and direct role in acquiring new members and donors for your nonprofit organization. However, it’s also important to understand that email marketing isn’t just a once-a-month occurrence. In order to be successful, your nonprofit should be sending emails on a regular basis. That’s how you maintain a relationship with your members. 

In today’s blog post, I have listed nine types of emails your nonprofit should consider sending. Each email idea is accompanied by an example of a real email sent by a nonprofit. Click each image to enlarge.

1) Welcome Email

Make a great first impression by sending a warm welcome email to new members, donors, volunteers, partners and sponsors. Use the salutation “Dear…,” express enthusiasm and appreciation, and make them feel like a part of your community. Julie Damon of shares how to create the perfect welcome email for your nonprofit. The following email from Network for Good is a great example of a warm welcome email. 

Welcome Email for Nonprofits


2) Thank You Email

This is an automated email that is triggered whenever someone fills out a form to make a donation, register for an event, subscribe to a blog, or some other action. Just because it’s sent automatically doesn’t mean it isn’t written with genuine gratitude. And there’s no such thing as a generic thank you email—a different thank you should be written for each form on the nonprofit’s website.

Joanne Fritz shares 5 best practices for thanking donors via email, and showcases charity:water as an example. 

Thank You Email for Nonprofits 


3) E-Newsletter

You’re probably already familiar with the E-newsletter—an aggregation of information to keep members current on upcoming events, fundraising goals, relevant news and your organization’s impact. E-newsletters are sent at the beginning of each week or month (any less frequent, and it’s not really “news” anymore). In order to achieve a proper newsletter layout where images and text can be easily placed, a carefully designed template is required.

The Business Development Board of Palm Beach County uses their newsletter to share local news, organization-wide announcements and photos from their most recent events.

E-Newsletter for Nonprofits


4) Event Invitation

In addition to announcing them in your newsletter, you should also promote upcoming events individually, in a separate email. Event emails should provide all the basics (date, time, location, price) as well as a brief description of the benefits of attending the event. Most importantly, make sure you include a link to the event registration.

The Humane Society of Charlotte does a great job of creating excitement around their Ties and Tails Gala.

Event Invitation Email for Nonprofits


5) Fundraiser Email

When you send an email asking people for donations, you should explain where the money is going and how it will benefit the community your organization serves. Here, statistics and numbers can be powerful, but what’s really moving is a true story of how someone’s life has been impacted by the generosity of past donors.

Try to appeal to people on an emotional level, and be sure the call to action—“Donate Now”—is prominent and links to a donation form.

The Red Cross uses video to tell the true stories of disaster survivors.

Fundraiser Email for Nonprofits


6) Public Policy Update 

If part of your organization’s mission is political advocacy, this type of email can be very valuable for keeping members informed on relevant legislative activity. It can also be useful for spurring action at the last minute. The Charlotte Chamber sends out a Public Policy Update regularly, which serves as a newsletter that covers local legislative news and relevant chamber events.

Public Policy Update Email for Nonprofits 


7) Referral Request

If your organization has a member referral program, don’t be shy about promoting it in an email. The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) shows how attention-grabbing a referral request email can be!

Referral Email for Nonprofits 


8) Online Survey

Surveys are a great way to ask for feedback about your organization. In this email, you should explain the incentive for completing the survey (whether that incentive is the opportunity to influence the future of the organization or an entry into a drawing for a cash prize). And, of course, include the link to the survey.

Online Survey Email for Nonprofits 


9) New Content Notification

Every time you publish a blog post, ebook, whitepaper, or other type of content, send an email notification to your subscriber list. This is a great way to reach out to people who aren’t currently members of your organization, but who are still interested in you and what you have to say.

I send this type of email each week to promote my blog posts.

New Blog Post Notification Email


These are nine great ways to keep in touch with your contacts, nurture your relationship with your members, and incite action. Do you send these types of emails? Or have you discovered a different email tactic that brings in results? Please share your thoughts!


UP NEXT: The Nonprofit’s Guide To Crafting The Perfect Email

Now that you have some ideas of what types of emails to send, come back next week to learn how to write powerful, persuasive content that gets your emails opened.

Email Marketing Consultation






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