Nonprofit newsletters have a massive part to play in charitable fundraising.
With studies showing ROI rates of 28% compared to just 7% for direct marketing, no charity can afford to neglect its email program.
What makes email so powerful for nonprofits?
Let’s start with the basics:
- Potential reach is massive: email has 3.93 billion users worldwide
- 99% of users check their email daily
- Research shows that email is 40 times more effective at generating new customers for businesses than Facebook and Twitter COMBINED
OK, but that doesn’t say anything specific about nonprofits…
A major study by CampaignMonitor and Qgiv found that:
- Email drove MORE charitable donations than any other online channel
- Email is the donors’ PREFERRED channel for hearing from causes they support (42%)
- 20.5% of donors said that emails made them MORE LIKELY TO DONATE AGAIN
And yet the same study found that charities themselves believe donors prefer to engage through social media!
Another study, this time by Connect Assist, found that while 70% of nonprofits see building relationships with supporters as important. But only 20% are doing it digitally.
And Mailchimp found that only 60% of charities are using email to raise money and inform their supporters.
Many nonprofits are struggling to bring in contributions.
Thousands of good causes are competing for attention.
Your nonprofit newsletter strategy could give you the edge you need to thrive and survive.
The case for nonprofit email marketing is pretty watertight.
- Email marketing displays consistently better ROI than alternatives
- It is much cheaper than PPC, SEO, telemarketing or direct mailing
- Results are easy to analyze and campaigns are easy to adapt
- It’s how the donors actually WANT to hear from charities
In this blog, we’ll examine some general principles behind successful nonprofit newsletters and then we’ll look at four super effective types of campaigns. And finally, we’ll wrap up with some bonus tips!
Click on any of the links below to jump ahead👍.
- What are charity supporters looking for?
- Welcome series
- Targeted appeals
- Opportunities for storytelling
- Thank you messages
- Bonus tips for successful nonprofit newsletters
Loads of nonprofits worldwide are supercharging their email marketing with Get A Newsletter. Join them today!
1. What are charity supporters looking for?
People don’t subscribe to nonprofits’ email lists for the same reasons they subscribe to a business.
People don’t give money to charities for the same reasons they give money to companies.
So as much as all the other wisdom we’ve shared about successful email marketing still applies, the guidelines need adjusting!😁
People sign up and donate because:
#1 They support your cause already
Whether for solely altruistic reasons or because family and friends support it, they want to see the goals you promote realized.
#2 They trust your organization to achieve positive goals
Lots of charities promote the same causes, but it’s the ones that generate trust that raise more money.
#3 They appreciate the results you produce
Your charity gets things done and can prove it.
#4 It makes them feel good about themselves
Not everyone would admit to this, but feeling appreciated and feeling that you’re doing good in the world are powerful motivators.
No doubt there are many other reasons, but these are the most important ones. In the rest of this blog, we’ll show how they can be applied to best effect.
2. Welcome Series
Nonprofit newsletters get some of the best average open rates in email marketing (25.96% according to recent studies)
Experian found that welcome emails get six times more opens than other promotional emails across all sectors.
In the nonprofit sector, it’s eight times more! So your welcome message is a key opportunity to make a splash.
First of all, it’s a great way to show new subscribers that they are important and that you are grateful for their support. 😁
Above all, they provide important opportunities to nurture new leads by:
- Showcasing the work you do
- Appealing for donations and other types of support
- Raising awareness of the problems your cause addresses
- Setting expectations about frequency and types of contact, which is important for keeping unsubscribe rates down
This is a great example of a welcome message from Save The Children, and what’s more, it’s PERSONALIZED.
- EduServ found that 17% of people in the UK would donate an extra £15 or more per month to charities if they personalized their approaches better
- 78% of US email users have reported that personalized content makes them more likely to spend money (or in nonprofit cases, donate)
- Personalized content in general drives x6 the ROI of generic email content
Those numbers are pretty convincing! So:
- Make sure your sign-up forms collect enough data to personalize – a name at the very least!
- Where possible, ask subscribers to provide information about what they are interested in and how often they want to hear from you. Then you can tailor content to interest segments
3. Targeted Appeals
In one of the studies mentioned earlier, 68.8% of subscribers said they were more likely to donate after receiving an appeal for a specific need.
The cause you promote in general terms is something your subscribers already support.
You need to show that there is an immediate problem that your readers’ donations can help solve. That provides a compelling reason to act now, in a way that raising the wider, abstract issue does not.
That urgency taps into all of the reasons why people support charities that we listed above.
As well as promoting a specific problem that needs urgent relief, you should show the impact that individual donors can have.
This example illustrates the impact a donation can have by putting it into terms of helping a real person.
And this one points out the actual benefit a donation would produce in terms of outcomes.
These are good examples of targeted appeals because they successfully speak to the reasons why people donate.
If you are looking to create nonprofit newsletters, then check out Get A Newsletter today!
4. Opportunities for Storytelling
One of the big plus points of email is the amount of freedom it gives you.
- For example, you can include text and images
- You can add links and social media buttons, in order to make the message interactive
Email is powerful because it combines the best features of offline media like direct mailing with the best features of online.
As humans, we respond to STORIES. And the design freedom that email provides maximizes storytelling power.
Pictures help us to connect stories with our lives. That’s why social media posts with images get:
- 53% more likes
- 104% more comments
- 84% more clickthrough
- 36% of charity donors said that images made a contribution to their decisions
Make sure you include relevant, striking imagery because it has a strong emotional effect.
This brings us on to another great storytelling tactic.
Business email marketers regularly use CASE STUDIES and SOCIAL PROOF, because they have such an impact on follow-up actions.
Nonprofit newsletters can get the same effect when they use REAL LIFE STORIES.
Donors identify with people, and so people (or animals!) should be at the heart of your appeals.
5. Thank you messages
Everybody likes to be thanked, and so charities should take the opportunities email provides to show gratitude.
Supporters who feel taken for granted are likely to move on. Therefore, you should always say thank you for their positive engagements.
That could be:
- Signing up to a newsletter list
- Making a donation
- Signing a petition
- Following you on social media
Even if you are not creating positive engagement, you must take care to keep your audience at least passively engaged.
Nonprofits reduce their unsubscribe rates when they send four or more updates per month to supporters because they are keeping their work front-of-mind.
In other words, it’s important to use your emails to show your subscribers that they matter.
Whether you’re providing valuable content and stories, whether you’re saying thank you or whether you’re making a targeted appeal, every message can help tie your audience closer to your cause.
Ready to start your nonprofit newsletter campaign? Then try Get A Newsletter now.
6. Bonus Tips for Successful Nonprofit Newsletters
We’ve looked at the three most important types of email campaigns all nonprofits should have in place.
Now we’re going to run through some quickfire tips you can implement to improve ROI.
Then here we go!
🌞 Tip #1: Provide different options to donate
All your nonprofit newsletters should include a CALL TO ACTION and usually, that will be a request for donations.
In contrast to the best practice advice about sign-up forms, donation forms should give plenty of options. This is a great example, which covers all the bases:
What’s so good about it? It works because it caters to every type of donor:
- There is a wide range of suggested donations
- Donors can choose which of the charity’s particular campaigns their money should go to
- An option to make the donation recurring is included
- Donors can contribute anonymously
- A range of credit cards are catered for
And finally, the form includes the website’s security credentials.
Don’t restrict your donors’ ability to give by limiting their options.
🌞 Tip #2 Use emails to refine other channels’ messaging
It is cheap and quick to produce and send out an email, but it is slow and expensive to send out a postal mailshot.
By carefully experimenting with wording, messages, and pictures in your email marketing, nonprofits can work out what does and doesn’t work well BEFORE committing money to costly channels like direct marketing, telemarketing, and PPC.
🌞 Tip #3 Treat incomplete donations like abandoned carts
Again, email marketing lessons from eCommerce can be applied to nonprofits with a little thought.
Thousands of online retailers have set up automated workflows that remind customers about purchases they began but did not complete.
Nonprofits can do the exact same thing with incomplete donations.
This can make all the difference because retail cart abandonment rates are typically between 60& and 80%!
🌞 Tip #4 Target lapsed donors
Yet another lesson from business marketing: it’s quicker and cheaper to get an existing customer to spend more money than it is to acquire a new customer.
Therefore, nonprofit newsletters should make a point of re-engaging people who have given money before.
- Define what a “lapsed donor” is to your organization. It may be somebody who hasn’t donated in six months, a year, two years, etc
- Work out why they have stopped giving – perhaps with a survey email
- Design a campaign targeted exclusively at this lapsed segment which addresses those reasons for stopping giving or which creates new reasons
And when you’ve re-engaged them THANK THEM!😁
🌞 Tip #5 Get to the point
Everyone gets more emails than they can ever read, so you need yours to stand out.
Research by Nielsen has found that:
- 79% of readers scan online content
- 80% of attention given is above the fold
- A typical email receives no more than 15 seconds of attention
- Even when opened, the average newsletter gets just 51 seconds of attention
Nonprofit newsletters need to make an impression right away. That means:
- Using a killer subject line
- Employing powerful images
- Writing an engaging opening paragraph
If a reader is not gripped by the opening of your newsletter, they’ll never see what comes later. Therefore, dedicate a disproportionate amount of time and effort to the introductory sections.
We’ve got a whole blog about writing catchy newsletter intros, so head on over there and check it out!
So there you have it!👍
That’s our guide to writing nonprofit newsletters that get results for your cause.
We hope that you found it useful and that this advice helps you get more supporters and more donations!