Unlike for-profit businesses, we see that a lot of charities and non-profits tend to fail to make best use out of email marketing for the following reasons:

They don’t signify the purpose of signing up to their mailing list

When someone opts into receiving emails from your charity, they have to know what to expect – It’s a charity, and not some place they can receive actual products/services from. Will you give them a thank you shout-out, a welcome pack, gift cards? Let them know, as they might be expecting some kind of thank you for any future donations.

There is no formulated welcome email process

Charities are generally really good at welcoming new people to their community in person or over the phone, but it is rarely the case via email. Make use of a welcome email chain, to ensure people who donate get the gifts and updates they signed up for. Offer regular content right from the moment they donate, so they feel appreciated. When you keep donators interested, they’ll tell their friends, boosting you social presence.

They don’t personalise and tailor your content for every reader

Just because you have a mailing list, it doesn’t mean you should simply dump out content. You need to add value to what you are writing, so that people feel involved and part of your community when they open your emails, and not just feel like a cash pot to support you. Take what you know about every reader, and tailor it to things like their locality, their membership plan (if they have one), their sponsors, the list goes on!

You’re a charity, people feel more fulfilled when they donate to you as opposed to treating themselves

If you utilise your email stance to pick up on missed or incomplete donations, chances are people will openly apologise and follow up with another contribution. Although it might seem like you’re taking advantage, your readers may be on a donation plan, and you may as well chase them up if the income isn’t arriving on time/at all. You’re a non-profit, so all donations will be going to a good cause.
(Tip: Send out automated emails at the end of each month to remind readers to donate and help with your cause). Studies show that automated email series save hours each week, and also boost reply and engagement rates by 250% (Campaign Monitor)

You don’t segment properly based on your reader’s engagement levels

While many charities will have very sophisticated donor segmentation models, it is still rare for the results from email campaigns to be used to their advantage. If you analyse open and click-through rates to see how engaged audiences are, you can carry out more informed targeting. This is done by seeing how different readers react to different kinds of content (interactive, videos, photos, text, animated etc). In short, email could be a much more powerful and well-respected asset to charities, it needs to be better understood and be given more time and loving!
To kick-start this process, start simply.
  • Define what part email could play to achieve your charitable aims.
  • Evaluate past performances so as to set goals for enhanced performance.