7 Essential Emails to Build Non-Profit Loyalty

Non-profit event

Recently, while perusing the professional networking site LinkedIn, I noticed a number of posts on discussion boards from email marketers representing non-profit organizations. They were reaching out for resources and information how to vary what they send in order to motivate recipients to become loyal to their organization and cause. In response to their query, I thought it might be useful to outline a few ideas to incorporate when promoting a non-profit organization via email:

1. Confirm Contributions via Email Statement
For many donors, especially those who provide a significant contribution, they would prefer confirmation and receipt of donation to use for tax purposes. The quickest, most convenient way to provide this receipt is through email. Although many online merchants provide an immediate printable confirmation in a pop-up window, once that window is closed it is often difficult to retrieve that document again at a later date (like tax time!). By sending a donation receipt through email, the donor can have a receipt on-file in their inbox immediately if they do not have access to a printer, such as mobile users. Also, in order to receive confirmation via email, you are requiring the donor to opt-in to your email list – An easy way for you to track donors and develop a strong send list.

2. Feature Those Who Benefit from Donations
Use email to highlight a profile of an individual that benefitted from donations or work that your non-profit has done. Non-profit microlender Kiva fundraises millions of dollars in contributions every week by featuring who will be receiving the donation and what they plan on doing with the funds. Showing your potential donors who they can help and how is the best way to motivate your audience to donate, stay loyal to your cause, and contribute in the future.

3. Personal Letter from Organization Founder
No one knows your organization’s cause and mission like the founder or president. Not only are they typically the face of the organization, but they can usually articulate what is needed and why it’s needed in the most succinct way possible. Also, much like featuring those who benefit from donations, hearing from the founder lets donors know who will be handling their money. This allows your founder to help recipients develop trust in the organization, outline the key reason to help, and inspire others to support the cause.

4. Highlight a Specific Campaign
Sure, you can send out broad, generalized emails about your non-profit and what you’re trying to accomplish. But, think of how much more effective your individual campaigns will be if you inform your entire list that you’re fundraising to rebuild a playground, collecting canned goods for Thanksgiving, or looking for volunteers to plant trees at a local park. Giving your recipients a concrete, short-term cause to commit to and keeping them informed of the progress is a wonderful way to engage followers for long-term goals. A notable example of this being done properly is how the March of Dimes incorporates their “March for Babies” campaign and will push notifications via email to recruit volunteers, build teams, prepare for events, and earn donations.

5. Segment Individual Donors
You wouldn’t send an email to purchase a $1,000 ticket to your upcoming fundraiser gala to a one-time donor who gave $5 and is a college student. It is important to know your audience: Know who gave what, how often, and when. Send messages to those who will be more likely to engage or respond to the email – This will help when tailoring email campaigns by demographics in order to get the highest ROI with the least amount of effort.

6. Share with Social Media
Make your list feel a part of your organization and keep your cause at the forefront of their mind by providing a frequent newsletter filled with information, graphics, and news that is easy to share. By making this information simple to disperse via social buttons embedded within your newsletter, you allow the recipient to easily broadcast your content to their friends and social network. Members of non-profit email lists are more likely to share content via social media than members of a corporate list because of the instant gratification of feeling like they’ve helped improve an issue by keeping their network informed. Give your list a reason to share by including thought-provoking, inspiring content as your call-to-action to share across the social sphere.

7. Send a No-Scroll Email
Sometimes less is more: By sending a one page email that showcases the entire message without scrolling, you can quickly touch base with your list without overwhelming them with information. Sometimes a quick graphic with a “donate now” button will get a higher return than sending a long, content-laden email. Keep in mind that your audience is busy and will usually just eyeball an email before deciding whether or not they have the time or interest in reading the entire message.

Of course these are only a few ideas to get you started on your upcoming non-profit organization’s email campaign. Try to think of innovative ways to turn the entirety of the emails you send into a call-to-action that will make a recipient feel comforted by staying committed to your cause (and email list).


Sarah Zibanejadrad
Inbound Marketing Coordinator, WhatCounts

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