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Nonprofit organizations have a unique set of challenges to work with not only when engaging with their audience members, but when collecting donations to help both their cause and to keep them up and running. The tricky part with reaching out for donations for your nonprofit is that you must appeal to your audience’s emotional side.

A donation is an act fueled by emotion and a person’s need to feel as if they’ve done something for the good of others. Nonprofits need to pay special attention and gear their marketing efforts toward more than their cause by addressing this need of their audience.

One of the most powerful ways for nonprofits to reach their audience members is by using several digital marketing strategies—more specifically, email marketing.

Why email marketing is vital

Email is a crucial part of any brand’s marketing strategy but plays a vital role when asking for donations for nonprofits.

Nonprofits often lack the time and employees needed to maintain the organization while also trying to run year-round campaigns asking for donations. Email marketing can help your nonprofit stay on top of daily workload as well as help you connect with your audience in a swifter, more streamlined manner.

Email marketing is vital for nonprofits because it helps:

  • Develop a loyal donor base
  • Create a trusting, lasting relationship with your donors
  • Expand your nonprofit’s overall reach
  • Drive more donations

When compared to other industries, nonprofits have some impressive email marketing benchmarks, including the highest open rates.

Source: Campaign Monitor

When done right, email marketing can drive impressive donations for nonprofits. Read on to discover some email marketing best practices to help drive donations for your nonprofit, as well as a few examples of nonprofit donation requests done right.

Email marketing best practices to drive donations for nonprofits

Before your nonprofit can focus on email design best practices, it’s important to have a solid strategy in place. When it comes to building and maintaining your email lists and sending the best messages to drive donations for nonprofits, here are the key points to keep in mind.

Grow your list the right way.

While this may seem a bit generic, it’s crucial for all marketers, not just nonprofits. Growing a valid, healthy list of email subscribers isn’t an easy task.

Take time to get to know your audience and see where they’re spending their time online. If they’re on social media, then make sure they have access to a signup form on your nonprofit’s profile page. If they find you through your website, make clever use of popup forms or have a designated landing page that allows visitors to sign up.

Be sure you’re gathering the right information from subscribers.

This is essential because it can and will play a massive role in whether your subscribers will donate or not. You want to make sure you’re collecting accurate and highly detailed data so that you can get to know who your donors are.

Knowing this information will then help you develop better communication with your audience members and gives you what you need to personalize your messages to them. Why is personalization so important? Because 78% of internet users in the United States have stated that personal, relevant content helps to increase their intent to make a purchase or donation.

Seventy-eight percent of US internet users say personalized content increased monetary intent.

Source: Campaign Monitor

Always monitor your email campaign performance.

Consistently monitoring the performance of your email campaigns is essential for many reasons, including:

  • It’s the only way to determine the success of a given campaign
  • Provides you with important information on what’s working with your readers and what isn’t

Constant monitoring will give you access to key email benchmarks that you can compare to the industry benchmarks we mentioned above. From there, you can see whether your current content is driving the desired results or not. If they aren’t, then you know it’s time to revamp your campaign.

Once you’ve done the work to revamp your email campaigns, run them through an A/B test to see if they’ll produce the results you want to see before you send them to your entire email list.

Email design best practices

Having a solid email marketing strategy in place to drive donations for nonprofits is only step one. Step two is designing email campaigns that convert subscribers into donors.

Write a compelling headline.

Your headline has several roles in your email marketing message, including:

  1. Immediately grabs your reader’s attention
  2. Describes the content of your message

Statistics state that most of your audience will only spend around 15 seconds reading your email, so you have little room for mistakes. You need to make sure your headline stands out from the rest of your content, as far as style and typography, but that it also tells your readers what the entire message is about.

This example from Charity Water does an outstanding job of making their headline stand out while leaving an impact and making readers wonder how they can “give time.”

Subject: Time to give

Asking for donations – wording the CTA.

Source: Really Good Emails

The right imagery is everything.

Many marketers believe that having the best copywriting is what’ll get your messages noticed and drive donations. However, that’s only part of the puzzle. Including the right imagery can and will make or break your email marketing efforts, especially when it comes to asking for donations.

While the right copy can tell a wonderful story, images speak to readers on an entirely different level. Take this example by UNICEF USA. As a part of their #WaterIs campaign, they included a segment on how water can be dangerous. Instead of telling the story in the message, they included an emotional image of a young child in search of clean water.

UNICEF USA makes use of powerful imagery to compel readers to learn more and make donations.

Source: Really Good Emails

Using compelling imagery goes further than pictures. Nonprofits can and should include a mixture of images, videos, and GIFs throughout their campaigns to help them enhance their storytelling. They should also make use of the psychology of colors to their advantage. Different colors can help in your storytelling efforts and contribute to how your readers feel and react to your messages.

Colors can have a powerful effect on our emotions.

Source: VeryWellMind

Include an actionable CTA button.

Finally, you want to make sure each of your emails features an actionable CTA button that’s easily spotted. While hyperlinking text works in some cases, you shouldn’t use that as your CTA, as it can be difficult to find. Keep it simple by making your CTA a button, so there’s no room for confusion.

You also want to keep in mind that your CTA should be short and sweet and include words that encourage donations for nonprofits. While many nonprofits simply use “Donate now” as their CTA, that can come off as a command, instead of a plea for assistance. Instead of “Donate now,” try using words like:

  • Contribute
  • Give
  • Help
  • Provide
  • Assist

Real-world examples of donation requests done right

Struggling with creating your next donation request campaign? Check out these two real-world examples of donation requests done right to help spark your planning process.

World Disaster Response

In this example by World Disaster Response, a number of design features stuck out, including their use of:

  • Organization
  • Imagery
  • Clear and concise copywriting
  • Two actionable CTAs

Having a quality combination of imagery and copywriting is essential to your email’s design, and the WDR does a splendid job of just that. Their heading stands out, gets right to the point, and aligns with the image used. They go on to include a bit of information before supplying readers with the option to learn more or help support the restoration efforts.

We particularly liked the use of “Support” in their CTA instead of “Donate,” because it doesn’t make the reader feel commanded to take part and plays to the emotions of the reader in a positive way.

World Disaster Response keeps their message short, sweet, and to the point while using a CTA that asks and doesn’t demand of their readers.

Source: Classy

Pencils of Promise

Pencils of Promise stood out to us because of their use of multiple CTAs, all of which compel readers to help. The green color of the CTAs stands out from the rest of the message and, without even reading the message, it’s clear that the organization is looking to build schools and fund education for those who may not have access to it.

From there, they use compelling storytelling to help deliver a message that urges readers to do their part to bring education to those in areas that need it most. How are readers compelled to help? Pencils of Promise place the story into the reader’s hands at the end by stating how their contribution will be put to use and then kindly asking “Will you help?”

 Pencils of Promise makes use of multiple CTAs that compel readers to take action.

Source: Community Boost

Wrap up

Crafting emails that drive donations for nonprofits doesn’t have to be a difficult process, especially if you focus on:

  • Your email marketing strategy
  • Email marketing design best practices

Need help with our nonprofit email marketing? Be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Nonprofits.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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