As a nonprofit marketing professional, you know essential it is to devise a marketing strategy that works so you know that your marketing dollars are being spent wisely. In the past, many nonprofits relied on word-of-mouth to get their message out to their intended audience. While word-of-mouth can still be extremely helpful, in today's digital world, there are new marketing avenues that nonprofits can explore to spread the word about their mission and the work they do. One of the most effective digital marketing tools that nonprofits can use is email.
In the decades before the dawn of the 20th century, nonprofits struggled to market their organisations efficiently. With a limited budget and limited reach, these organisations spread the word about what they did through mail or by holding local events, and by hoping that supporters would talk to their friends and family about the great work they achieved. Few nonprofits were able to reach out to supporters outside of their small, local circle. But with the advent of the internet, it became easier to tell people about nonprofits and match these organisations to the audience they were hoping to reach on a much larger scale.
Now in 2020, most nonprofits have at the very least website, and some organisations are experimenting with building a digital marketing strategy through social media, blogging, email, and more. Email, in particular, is a great way to extend your reach and find new donors, supporters, or volunteers. Here are a few great ways nonprofits can use email to help their organisation:
Email is a fantastic tool because, with email marketing software, it's easy to keep track of your email list and send out personalized communication with the intent of informing, educating, or inspiring action.
Email is also a great platform for sharing the news about the great work your nonprofit has been doing. You can send out a monthly newsletter with a message from your president or CEO, a few eye-catching images, and some articles that link people directly back to your website.
Including enticing calls to action within your messages can inspire people to get to take the next step in getting involved in your organisation. It's also easy to include a button that people can click to take them to your donation portal. And emails are easy for your fans to share with their friends and family. If you have social media profiles, you can also link readers back to them so they can follow you on those platforms as well.
You can also use email to follow up with new connections after events, or remind your followers about upcoming events or initiatives. Make sure to collect email addresses at any event you host or attend. Ask the people you talk to if they want to sign up for your email list, and then include them in future communications. In general, email is a great tool for connecting with new fans and keeping in touch with your followers.
Your fans and followers want to hear from you. They want to know what's up with your organisation, and they want updates about how your work has been impacting your community and the world at large. If you aren't consistently communicating with your audience on a platform they connect with and use regularly, they may forget about you. Losing touch with supporters is the last thing your organisation needs. If you want to be on a trajectory towards growth, email is a great place to get started.
Here are a few of the best benefits that nonprofits can get from email:
Nonprofits are different from for-profit businesses because they are more focused on charity than they are on making money, but that doesn't mean that nonprofit organisations should neglect marketing and not look towards growth in the future. If you want to reach more people, solicit more donations and volunteers, and ultimately, help the world on a wider scope, you need to have a growth-focused mind-set. Collecting email addresses, communicating with your audience, and asking them to take action and spread the word is one way to focus on growth.
Use email to encourage people to connect with your brand remind them what's important to your organisation. People connect with what you have to say and the values you hold, so every communication you send out should reflect these values. This is at the heart of your brand. Whether you're sending a thank-you to a donor or a reminder to a volunteer, make sure both the visual and written content reflects your brand.
With email marketing software, you can segment your audience into sections, like donors, volunteers, or prospects, and then send different messages to each group. You can remind your volunteers about an upcoming chance for them to help you, or you can remind donors to make their annual gift. And you can send a general newsletter out to anyone who has expressed an interest in your organisation. With this easy way to communicate at your fingertips, it's time to take advantage of email.
With small budgets in mind, many email platforms offer free or low-cost membership tiers for smaller businesses or nonprofits, which means that this is a cost-effective way to market your organisation. And with much of the email process automated (i.e. pre-designed templates, easy to use sign-up forms), email will not use up too many of the resources that are so valuable to your nonprofit.
You can use email for so many different types of communication with your audience. Here are a few great examples of nonprofits who use email marketing:
You can use email to showcase the work you do, so that donors, volunteers, and fans know what they're supporting. Oxfam showcases this beautifully when they celebrated a huge win for the organisation when Parliament passed legislation to spend more on aid. Not only did they want to share the great news with their audience, they also encouraged people to get involved, so more good can be done. Notice the prominent call to action highlighted in green in the centre of the email.
You can use email to tell fans about campaigns or initiatives. This example, from the organisation BirdsCarribean, goes into detail about a matching gift campaign, where any gift made before the end of the year gets doubled. Letting people know about matching gifts campaigns or other donor initiatives can encourage people to donate while creating a sense of urgency - donors need to make their gift before the campaign expires. Urgency in email is one way to inspire action.
You can also use emails to make a fundraising appeal to lapsed donors who you don't want to lose, or use email to thank people after they make a gift or volunteer. Email is also a great tool for asking people for feedback about your organisation or welcoming them to your list after they sign up. Emails work best when they tell a story that connects with human emotion. When people feel overjoyed, encouraged, or even angered by a story, their strong emotion will inspire action.
If you're ready to get started with email marketing for your organisation, it's important to first find email marketing software that works for you. Look for software that offers a free membership for small businesses or nonprofits, and helps to take a lot of the hard work out of creating beautiful emails. And to make sure you're building emails that your audience actually responds to, here are a few important tips to keep in mind:
An email that's simple to read, easy to navigate and laid out in a straightforward way is most effective. People are likely reading your message on the go, so make sure the main points are easily determined when someone skims the message.
Email subject lines that are personalised or include emojis or symbols may stand out in people's overcrowded inboxes, making them more likely to notice your message and click on it.
You should choose a template that is unified and matches with your branding. The fonts, logos, colours, and other design elements should be clean and easy-to-read, and include high-quality images or even video content.
People are more likely to do what you ask of them when it's clear what you want them to do and the next steps are easy. Asking them to click a large, colourful button to learn more, make a donation, or sign up to volunteer makes it easy for the reader to take the next step.
If you're still unsure of how to get started with email marketing for your nonprofit, it doesn't hurt to ask the pros. The team at Enginemailer is looking to support their communities and the organisations that power them. Nonprofit organisations who register with Enginemailer will be given an unlock code for our Forever Free plan with no daily sending limits. And if you decide to upgrade your plan in the future, any plan upgrades will automatically qualify for a 50% discount. Contact us to learn more about what we can do to help make your organisation's email marketing goals a reality!