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5 Tips for Better Nonprofit Fundraising Emails

Marcella Vitulli

One of the best weapons in a nonprofit’s fundraising arsenal is email campaigning. We are sending and receiving more fundraising emails than ever before, all vying for the attention of supporters to act on behalf of our cause.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult for your audience to differentiate your messages from the numerous emails that flood their inboxes each day, especially if your mass mailings are labeled as junk and relegated to the black hole of the spam folder.


In order to give your messages the best chance at reaching their targets and achieving your outreach goals, it's best to consult an expert. 

Brett Schenker, an email deliverability specialist at NGP VAN, outlined emailing best practices for a recent article entitled, “The Email Gauntlet: How Democratic Online Fundraisers are Tempting Fate.” Here are his tips for running a successful email campaign:


better nonprofit fundraising emails

1. Stay on the pulse

Email analytics are not just window dressing.

The delivery result data that follows each mailing can give you a real-time sense of how effective (or not) your outreach is. By regularly monitoring this information, you can quickly address issues that may be impacting your bounce and click rates and avoid spinning your wheels while you lose more and more subscribers.

2. Avoid the crowds

Often, organizational calendars dictate editorial calendars -- critical fundraising deadlines or upcoming events will naturally lend themselves to an increase in the volume of emails you (and others) send.

It’s important, however, to separate your messages from the deluge of email your audience is receiving.

An easy way to accomplish this is to schedule emails to send outside of normal, peak times. By hitting  inboxes outside of the typical email windows, your messages may reach your audience at a better time for them. As always, test to make sure this actually works before changing all of your email send times.

3. Keep it fresh

With the ever-evolving intelligence of email filtering configurations, avoiding the spam folder is no longer simply a question of keywords.

Increasingly, these sophisticated systems analyze your emails in terms of context, both in and of themselves and against similar messages being received.

And if your emails are too reminiscent of other campaigns that users don’t like, you may find you’re guilty by association. The best way to avoid this pitfall is to stay true to unique messaging.

4. Make it personal

Data should be utilized to the fullest when crafting messaging. Personalized outreach from brands like Amazon capitalizes on search and behavior history to tailor individual messages for shoppers.

Understanding a user’s interests and habits is the key to writing an compelling ask and eliciting a desirable response.

5. Trim the fat

You may be sabotaging your email campaign before ever hitting “send” with bloated, outdated email lists. If too many of your regular subscribers don’t log into their accounts or ignore or delete your messages without opening them, your emails will end up in spam boxes more often.

Decreasing your distribution lists may seem counterintuitive, but you’ll likely find higher open, click, and engagement rates with more precise mailings to a narrower audience.

Keeping these tactics in mind will position your email marketing campa
ign for success.

Topics: email, fundraising