In the centuries before email existed, nonprofits somehow managed to successfully share their story, develop relationships, send a compelling message, and drive contributions.  Looking back, it seems hard to believe that over the years, nonprofit brands evolved, reputations grew and communication between nonprofits and the communities they served took place without the support of technology. 

The presence of email has been a true game changer

Think of the days of writing letters, publishing and mailing reports, and placing individual calls to stay connected with key influencers. The time and cost was staggering. And then along came email!

As annoying and intrusive as this communication platform is, it cannot be beat when it comes to executing quick, efficient, cost effective, targeted messaging. The good news is that nonprofit leaders know this and most of them have embraced email communication as core to their marketing plans.

Email has the highest return on investment of any marketing channel: $40 for every $1 invested    

Email provides diverse opportunities that deliver a tangible ROI for nonprofits, enhancing their ability to:

  • Interact with donors and volunteers in a meaningful way

Email messages enable nonprofits to remain in touch with their supporters and clients with very little hard cost and with a minimum of time involved. This is one communication platform that can be leveraged to send fund raiser invitations, annual reports, solicitations and announcements to specific audiences. Regularly scheduled emails allow for the sharing of essential data that demonstrates your impact and reinforces your mission.

Out of sight can mean out of mind, but frequent, relevant email messages (including testimonials, shared memories, and photos or videos) can help strengthen the organization’s presence while fortifying important connections.  

Email is a very efficient way to shape the experience your existing supporters have with the organization, but it can also help the organization research, identify and nurture prospective supporters through the implementation of an email recruiting campaign.

  • Show appreciation

Sending thank you emails to the organization’s loyal fans, along with a personalized message, is a terrific way to raise satisfaction and build genuine loyalty. It is important to remember that the more individualized the message is, the more of an impression it makes. So when email is used to send a quick, sincere acknowledgment of the efforts of a board member or a volunteer, engage with a community leader or single out a new contributor, it can assist with forging stronger relationships. 

Unlike traditional postal mailings, email delivery is instantaneous. Follow up comments and words of encouragement or gratitude can be sent in a timely fashion, reinforcing positive feelings. And one of the best features of an email is that it works whether you are thanking a donor, welcoming a new board member, or acknowledging the efforts of a committee chair. Under a broad array of circumstances, email outreach can contribute to their sense of fulfillment and deepen their emotional commitment. 

  • Gain exposure

Using email to spotlight accomplishments and build a memorable presence can also attract attention from the local press. When the media picks up on your story it can help to spread the word and raise your credibility.  Be sure to include the journalists in your area when sending important, newsworthy messages.

  • Drive revenue

Recognizing the breath of opportunities that exist for email to improve nonprofit communications, the most significant of these may be its fund raising capabilities. 

It is important to note the statistics that show that email is responsible for approximately one-third of the online revenue generated in the nonprofit community.  This high success rate is mostly attributed to the fact that email allows for a focused message and is delivered to the appropriate audience at low cost.

Email is effective for any season

The email experience is even more effective when the organization follows a few common sense rules regarding avoiding email fatigue, keeping messages relevant and meaningful, using the subject line thoughtfully, tracking results and staying targeted to your audience.       

For organizations of any size, email is popular because it is easy to use, doesn’t require a large staff, and has measurable results. Email is also often used because it can serve as the perfect basis of a holiday campaign, a year-end appeal, or a seasonal message.  Good Luck on your email campaigns.