Email Marketing for Nonprofits: It’s Never Too Early to Start

I’m always inspired by non-profits who use email marketing to grow their audience and sustain their campaigns. There is something so inspiring about seeing an organization that truly cares for its constituents and wants to make a difference.

I’ve always been a huge fan of non-profits and seen them as a source of inspiration for my own work. I recently attended the BlogHer 16 conference where over 1000 female bloggers gathered to connect, learn, and grow. One of the presentations that really stuck out to me was from Pam Fox of Pam’s House of Beauty. In this presentation, she described how she used email marketing to grow her audience and sustain her blogging while she was running a non-profit. She shared that even though her blog is fairly new, she had been sending out regular email pitches since Day One.

The presentation left me awed by the power of email marketing and inspired to try it myself. I’ve been a fan of Pam’s House of Beauty for a while and have always admired her for using her skillset to help others. When she called out for volunteers to help with a community service project, I knew I had to answer her call. I’ve been a fan of non-profits my whole life and have always had a soft spot for those who are trying to make the world a better place.

If you’re looking to try email marketing or need some help designing a strategy, I highly recommend checking out Pam’s presentation. She gives great tips on how to use email to grow your audience and sustain your blogging while working on a campaign for a non-profit. You can watch the whole presentation here:

Why Email Marketing?

I think everyone can appreciate the benefits of email marketing:

  • it’s free;
  • you can send it to as many people as you want;
  • you can put in as much or as little effort as you want into it;
  • you can tailor it to be as relevant or as general as you want; and
  • you can track the results of your campaigns easily.

Now, not all nonprofits will be able to take advantage of all of these perks, but for the ones that can, it’s a great option.

How Can Email Marketing Help My Nonprofit?

Email marketing allows you to keep your audience engaged with regular content. By regularly sending out pitches, you give your readers and subscribers something to look forward to every month or so. In addition to keeping them interested, you can also use the content of your emails to teach them something new about your cause or campaign. Since all of your content is centralized in one place, it makes it much easier to find and share. This content then gets picked up by other platforms like Twitter, where your followers can share it with their network. As a result, you can potentially reach a much larger audience than you could ever dream of reaching on your own. Email marketing is a great way to build your audience and engage with your community while also educating them on your mission and vision. It’s a winning combination that you cannot beat.

When Should I Start My Email Marketing Campaign?

There are basically three ways to approach starting an email marketing campaign:

  • you can start with a bang, with a big launch containing lots of content and plenty of interactions;
  • you can build up to a launch date gradually, with shorter and shorter campaigns leading up to the big one; or
  • you can do both, with a shorter campaign to test the waters and then a bigger one once you’ve confirmed the interest in your product or service.

I’d recommend starting with a bang and seeing how things go. You can put out some content and gather feedback. The most important thing is to start engaging with your audience, so that they know you’re alive and kicking. Once you’ve established that, you can gradually introduce more personal content and interact with them more through social media.

How Can I Measure the Success of My Campaign?

There are several ways to track the success of your email marketing campaign, depending on what you’re looking for. You can start out just by looking at the numbers:

  • the more people who open your emails, the more successful your campaign;
  • the more people who click on a link or take an action (like filling out a form or making a purchase), the more successful your campaign;
  • and the more people who engage with your content, the more successful your campaign.

Those are all simple and easy to measure. What’s important is that you look at all of the data and try to figure out what makes the most sense based on your goals and objectives. You don’t want to be constantly checking the open rate of a particular email because it might tell you that a) your audience doesn’t care much about the content you’re sending out and/or b) they’re just not interested in the type of content you’re sending out. In that case, you’ll want to look at other metrics like the click rate or the engagement rate of your content to get a better idea of how effective your campaign is. The more you know, the better.

What If I Am Concerned That My Email Will Get Hacked?

If you’re reasonably certain that your email won’t get hacked, you can proceed with absolute confidence. If, however, you’re not sure or you want to be extra careful, you can implement some simple yet effective security measures to ensure your privacy. For example, you can:

  • make sure your emails are coming from a reputable source;
  • use a reliable email marketing service;
  • set up a special inbox (SPAM folder) for important emails (campaigns, fundraising appeals, etc.); and
  • use a different, randomly generated password for every online account.

If you’re looking for an email marketing service, you can start out easy with something like MailChimp. They’ve got a free plan that lets you send up to 2000 emails per month. As you get more advanced, you can move up to their premium plan which costs just $2.95 per month. You also need to look into what your email provider’s policies are regarding sending unsolicited emails. Some will allow you to send out as many as you want while others limit you to a certain amount each month.

Designing an Email Marketing Strategy

The layout and design of your email itself is important, but so is the strategy you use to send it. When it comes down to email marketing for nonprofits, you need to keep the following things in mind:

  • the subject line of your email;
  • the copy of your email;
  • the design of the email; and
  • the schedule you’ll use to send it.

The first thing to do is decide on your goal for the campaign. What do you want to learn from this initiative? What effect do you want it to have? Once you’ve determined your goals and objectives, you can start to lay out the strategy. Your strategy should include how you’re going to approach gaining email subscribers, what pitch you’ll use, and the schedule you’ll follow.

The Importance of Building A Relationship With My Audience

The way you present yourself to your audience matters a lot. You want to give them the impression that you’re a person they can trust, so that when you do pitch them on something, they’ll feel that what you’re saying is what they want to hear. This means getting to know your audience, what they look for, and what would make them interested in your content. Your job is not to convert them into fans; your job is to help them understand why you deserve their attention.

If possible, I’d recommend getting to know your audience through social media. You can start by simply observing what types of content your audience gravitates towards and then try to emulate that same content in your own work. You can also reach out to various communities and individuals within those groups to see what would make them interested in your content. For example, if you’re a dog lover and know that certain types of content get on lots of paws, you can try to include more animal-related content in your emails to attract dog lovers.

Include various pieces of content in your email, like an article, infographic, or podcast episode. Give them enough information to make them interested, but don’t overwhelm them with too much content. Your job is to educate and entertain your audience, not bore them to death.

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