Planting the Seed for Email Marketing Success: How Email Marketing Can Boost Your Nonprofit

by Caroline Gould

business turning back time“We can’t afford it. There isn’t enough time. We don’t have the staff to support it.” For those who have ever worked in a nonprofit you are used to hearing these phrases when faced with decisions to move forward with certain processes. This is not any different for email marketing.

The 2014 Nonprofit Communications Trend Report indicates that the top challenge for nonprofit communicators this year is the lack of time to produce quality content for email marketing. Regardless of your budget and size, there are email marketing tools for every nonprofit, some that are even free.

According to Convio, here are 6 compelling reasons why your nonprofit should be using email marketing.

1. Email is inexpensive. Historically non-profit organizations have depended on direct mail and telemarketing for fundraising campaigns and communications with their constituents. These methods carry heavy overhead costs and are highly impractical for maintaining frequent communication with your supporters. There are several online marketing tools to fit every budget. I highly recommend MailChimp and Constant Contact because of their low-cost options, easy to use formats, and exceptional customer support. Depending on the size of your contact list, you can manage your email marketing for free!

2. Email is immediate. Nonprofits often have urgent needs for support or sending out information related to a current event. In these cases, nonprofits don’t have the time to design, print, and mail a direct mail piece either in-house or through a publishing company. A successful email can be created and sent within hours or even minutes!

3. Email provides quick results. With direct mail pieces, you can wait days and even weeks for the information to reach your audience. Therefore this increases the response time to several weeks and even months depending on when it reached your constituents. This is highly ineffective for maintaining relationships with your constituents.

4. Email provides new insights. Several online email marketing tools allow you to track and measure open and click through rates. This allows to you evaluate the effectiveness of your email messages and campaigns to make sure you are providing your supporters with the timely and relevant information that they want.

5. Email allows you to send personalize messages. The great thing about email marketing tools is that they allow you to segment and target your email contact lists based on various categories such as interests, donor history, and geographical location. The success of any nonprofit depends on cultivating strong relationships with your supporters. By sending personal messages you are creating a connection between the constituent and your mission to hopefully translate into support for your nonprofit.

6. Email allows you to segment and test your email campaigns. This function is extremely important because it allows you to experiment different messaging on a small sample group before you send to the entire list. Testing on a specific segment ensures that you are optimizing your emails to achieve the highest potential results. If you notice your open rates are higher with one message or subject line over the other you can choose to implement the most successful campaign on the larger list.

No matter what the excuse is you can always incorporate a level of email marketing into your nonprofit communications strategies.

To learn more about how to plan and execute a successful email marketing campaign, check out my webinar, Planting the Seed for Email Marketing Success: How Email Marketing Can Boost Your Non-Profit, at

Caroline Gould is a full-time communications professional and part-time graduate student at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies in the PR and Corporate Communications Program. Her areas of interest are digital marketing and corporate social responsibility.