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9 Nonprofit Emails That Actually Convert

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Published January 23, 2023 Reading Time: 8 minutes

Nonprofit email marketing can present its fair share of challenges for organizations. From churning out captivating new campaigns to getting noticed in potential donors’ inboxes, creating successful fundraising emails requires creativity and diligence.

Fortunately, nonprofits have an advantage. Emails from charitable organizations receive open rates four times higher than typical marketing emails.¹ However, it’s what happens after the open that determines whether your organization can secure a donation.

Email marketing for nonprofits isn’t too different from traditional email marketing. The key to improving your nonprofit email marketing campaigns’ metrics is to send the right messages to the right donors at the right time. 

Need some ideas on how to craft the right email? Below, we break down nine nonprofit email marketing examples that your organization can use as inspiration for its next campaign.

9 Nonprofit Email Marketing Examples

1. Welcome Emails

It’s crucial to provide new email subscribers with a warm welcome. Welcome emails help strengthen connections with your supporters and increase your chances of getting donations. 

In short, these messages often define your brand’s first impression. And this impression determines if someone makes a follow-up donation or unsubscribes from your email list.

Around 74% of new subscribers expect a welcome email after joining a newsletter, and these messages have an average open rate of 202% higher than traditional email campaigns That means your welcome email series is crucial in securing donations.

Take a look at this welcome email example from Save the Children. It accomplishes three things necessary for an effective welcome series:

  • Sets a positive tone with the supporters on their email list
  • Provides an example of what subscribers can expect
  • Highlights the value of the organization
Save the Children

2. Storytelling Emails

No matter what your cause might be, stories should play a central part in your nonprofit email marketing strategy. Strong storytelling draws readers in emotionally and makes them more likely to give.

However, try not to box yourself into thinking of a story only in terms of text. You can also use images to get your message across.

This effective email from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is a shining example of mixing imagery with compelling copy.

WWF

The first thing you see is a large, striking photo of a snow leopard looking straight at you. This image helps readers connect instantly with the story WWF is about to tell, especially since some of us care as much about animals as people.³ 

Plus, addressing the reader by name and asking a question directly (“Will you help stop threats …”) starts and ends on an emotional note. Not to mention supporting that emotion with statistics on the mistreatment of snow leopards strengthens the impact of the message.

Whether it’s a personal anecdote from your founder or a captivating story from the field, get creative with your email content. Storytelling emails can be an excellent way to build awareness for your blog as well. Use these well-crafted emails to encourage readers to explore your new posts and stay up to date on your latest program advancements. Hopefully, these topics nudge them to donate. 

Check out how the St. Baldrick’s Foundation does it.

St. Baldrick’s Foundation

3. Thank You and Update Emails

Thanking donors with a simple note and sharing program updates is a great email tactic to improve donor retention.

Subscribers signal that they want to be kept in the loop when they opt-in to your emails. Providing regular updates keeps your supporters engaged and returning to donate again.

Some ideas you can use in your update emails include:

  • Major milestones for your nonprofit, like raising a specific amount of money or helping a specific number of people
  • Your organization’s anniversary celebrations
  • New programs, upcoming events, fundraising campaigns, or initiatives your nonprofit plans to roll out

The following progress update message from charity: water is a great example. It highlights specifics such as where the donation will go, how many projects funded so far, and how close the project is to its goal.

charity:water

Highlighting the specific outcome of donations creates a feel-good moment for your subscribers. Small touches, such as the “You are here” marker in the timeline below, make donation goals seem more tangible. Framing these updates as thank-you messages can help increase opens, click-through rates, and your overall deliverability.

charity:water

4. Holiday Emails

Most charitable giving happens during the year-end season, and email can be a powerful tool to capitalize on that giving spirit. For example, the boom of charitable donations on Facebook in place of holiday gifts shows that people feel inclined to support nonprofits during the holidays. Use your email to suggest that subscribers make donations in honor of others rather than gifting material objects.

This holiday message from Deki is a straightforward example of how nonprofits can solicit donations during the holidays, framing donations as gifts.

Deki

In short, don’t be afraid to push for donations during the holidays. People expect it, and they’re ready to answer the call. Sometimes, they just need a gentle nudge.

5. Number and Statistic-Based Emails

Numbers and statistics in your fundraising mail subject lines are a proven way to immediately grab someone’s attention and stand out in your subscribers’ inboxes. Here are a couple of examples:

  • There are 844 million people without access to clean water worldwide
  • One in five children lacks proper access to food annually in the United States

Build these statistics into the body of your email and your preview text. To see it in action, check out how the example below uses statistics to grab attention and demonstrate the urgency of a situation.

monarch butterfly

Another way to educate your audience and grab your readers’ attention is by including a donation infographic within your email. This one from Habitat for Humanity of Florida demonstrates how organizations can integrate figures into nonprofit email marketing campaigns.

nonprofit email marketing

6. Matching Donation Emails

Double the Donation found that 84% of donors are more likely to donate if their corporation offers a match, and one in three donors would give larger gifts if matching applied to their donation.⁴ 

Reserved for special promotions and used sparingly, messages like this one from WE Charity tend to resonate with readers. The notion of doubling your impact combined with the hopeful copy (“It’s never too late to change the world”) makes it a winner.

Matching Donation Emails

While you can run a donation matching campaign anytime, it’s especially impactful during the holidays.

The bold “2” and “Double Your Pledge” call to action (CTA) immediately makes donors feel like they’re getting the maximum value out of their pledge to Sevenly. And we need more of that since an estimated $4 to $7 billion in matching funds goes unclaimed yearly.⁵

Double Your Pledge

7. Question and Survey Emails

When competing with social media and chatbots, anything you can do to open up the lines of communication and make your emails interactive is a major plus.

That’s why surveys and question-based messages like this one from the WWF are smart moves.

nonprofit email marketing

Leading to a detailed questionnaire, these emails help you learn more about your subscribers and improve your email list segmentation.

Question and Survey Emails

Plus, letting your readers know you’re listening can help distinguish you from competitors in their inboxes. According to Fast Company’s 1,000-cold-email experiment, question-based emails that challenge readers’ brains improved response rates.⁶

Also, surveys help nonprofits achieve personalized emails to provide the right messaging. By surveying your subscribers directly, you can identify relevant forms of A/B testing to conduct and fine-tune your emails accordingly for better engagement. Here are a few A/B testing ideas to consider. 

8. The Minimalist Email

A “less is more” mentality with your nonprofit marketing strategy not only requires reduced legwork but is easier on your readers. After all, your subscribers’ time is valuable, and keep in mind that the average attention span for adults is nine seconds.

With fewer points to drop off or lose your readers’ attention, short emails with simple copy tend to convert better than lengthier ones.⁷ This approach makes it harder for readers to miss your CTA.

Brief messages like this one from UNICEF pack a punch with impactful email design and a clear CTA.

#waterls unicef usa

Likewise, this “Learn more” copy and positive imagery from charity: water is a great example of a minimalist email that encourages action.

nonprofit marketing email

Getting donors’ attention typically starts with an email, but your long-form landing page with a donation or sign-up form is the critical next piece of the puzzle. Optimize this page to inspire donors to continue moving through the donation funnel.

9. Success Story Emails

Don’t forget to provide your donors with stories of your nonprofit organization’s success and how they’ve contributed to your accomplishments. Highlighting specific success stories or instances of someone benefiting from your work delivers concrete proof of your organization’s impact.

These success stories prove that your organization is honest, good, and reliable. 

This email from charity: water highlights an instance of donations in action by telling the story of Srey and her family in Cambodia. Showing Srey and her new water filter proves that donations do impactful work.

“Success Story” Emails

Sticking to the principle of “show, don’t tell,” social proof is proven to increase email engagement. Whether it’s testimonials, smiling faces, or statistics from a fundraising goal, showcase the broader community’s contribution to your cause and make your reader proud to be a part of it.

How Diverse Is Your Nonprofit Email Strategy?

The long-term health of any nonprofit relies on potential supporters converting into loyal donors. And diversifying your nonprofit email marketing strategy with these nine types of messages can help you accomplish that goal. 

However, don’t make email marketing harder than it needs to be. Rather than scramble for fresh ideas, think about simple ways you can start incorporating high-converting elements into your emails. Then, examine your analytics to see which social media posts perform the best or which case studies have the highest views—this content will likely perform well in your email campaigns, too.

Need help bumping up your conversion rates? Trust Classy to help you get the job done. Our fundraising platform can help you build donation sites, peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, recurring giving, and more. We provide you with the basic email marketing tools, integrations, and automation functionality you need to scale your digital donations.

Emil Kristensen is the CMO and co-founder of Sleeknote, a company that helps e-commerce brands engage their site visitors with targeted on-site messages.

Sources

  1. “Privacy Policy,” Privacy & Terms, Google, last modified April 17, 2017, https://www.google.com/policies/privacy
  2. “7 Best Welcome Email Examples to Engage Your Customers,” Email Marketing, Omnisend, last modified May 4, 2022, https://www.omnisend.com/blog/best-welcome-emails/
  3. “Why People Sometimes Care More About Dogs Than Humans,” Psychology, Psychology Today, last modified November 9, 2017, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/canine-corner/201711/why-people-sometimes-care-more-about-dogs-humans
  4. “Corporate Giving and Matching Gift Statistics [Updated 2022],” Statistics, Double the Donation, last modified 2022, https://doublethedonation.com/matching-gift-statistics/
  5. “Corporate Giving and Matching Gift Statistics [Updated 2022],” Statistics, Double the Donation, last modified 2022, https://doublethedonation.com/matching-gift-statistics/
  6. “What We Learned From Sending 1,000 Cold Emails,” Email, Fast Company, last modified November 7, 2014, https://www.fastcompany.com/3036672/what-we-learned-from-sending-1000-cold-emails
  7. “The Ideal Length of a Sales Email, Based on 40 Million Emails,” Email Marketing, Hubspot, last modified June 10, 2021, https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/ideal-length-sales-email
9 Email Templates for Nonprofit Annual Communication Plan

9 Email Templates for Nonprofit Annual Communication Plan

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