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Supercharge Your Cause: Nonprofit Email Marketing Strategies That Work

Ready to transform your nonprofit's email marketing? Our guide offers actionable advice, inspiring examples, and a free tool to help you succeed.

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Last updated on July 5, 2024

Hey there, fellow nonprofit champions! 👋 Ever feel like your carefully crafted emails are getting lost in the digital abyss? You’re not alone.

Nonprofit Email marketing is a game-changer for us, but only if you’re doing it right. And by “right,” I mean ditching the impersonal blasts and embracing a heartfelt approach that truly connects with your supporters.

We’re talking about emails that tell stories, evoke emotions, and inspire action.

The Payoff? A whopping 40.04% average open rate for nonprofit emails, compared to just 29.89% for commercial emails. That’s the power of passion! (Source: Mailchimp)

But hey, even with the best intentions, crafting compelling emails can be tough. That’s why I’m here to guide you through the ins and outs of nonprofit email marketing, with actionable tips, real-world examples, and even a sprinkle of tech magic from Icegram Express to make your life easier.

Get ready to transform your emails from forgettable pleas to powerful tools for change. Let’s make those hearts flutter and those donations roll in!

The heartfelt approach: Emailing like you actually care (because you do)

Let’s be real – no one likes getting those generic, cookie-cutter emails that scream “Donate now!” Your supporters are people, not ATMs. They want to feel like they’re part of something meaningful, not just another name on a mailing list.

So, ditch the robotic corporate speak and let your passion shine through! Share stories that tug at their heartstrings, show them the real-world impact of their support and write like you’re talking to a friend, not a potential donor.

Example: Instead of saying, “We need your donation to continue our important work,” try something like, “Your support helps us provide clean water to families in need. Imagine the joy on a child’s face when they have access to clean water for the first time!”

Trust me, it works. A whopping 75% of donors say they’re more likely to give again if they feel a personal connection to your organization. That’s the power of a heartfelt email!

Part 1: The dos and don’ts of nonprofit email marketing

Alright, now that you’re ready to ditch the boring emails, let’s talk about how to craft messages that make a difference. Here’s your cheat sheet for nonprofit email marketing success:


  • Focus on building relationships: Treat your supporters like the awesome humans they are. Get to know them, share their stories, and make them feel like part of your crew.
  • Tell stories that resonate: Humans are suckers for a good story. Show them how their support is changing lives and making a real impact in the world.
  • Use a personal and authentic tone: Ditch the jargon and write like you’re talking to a friend over coffee. Be real, be enthusiastic, and let your passion for your cause shine through.
  • Segment your list: Not all supporters are created equal. Send targeted messages to different groups based on their interests, donation history, and level of engagement.
  • Test and optimize: Don’t be afraid to experiment! Try different subject lines, content, and calls to action to see what gets your audience clicking.


  • Bombard your subscribers: No one wants their inbox flooded with emails. Find a frequency that works for your audience (and stick to it).
  • Be a robot: Generic, impersonal emails are a one-way ticket to the unsubscribe button. Personalize your messages and make them feel special.
  • Ignore the data: Pay attention to your email analytics. It’s like having a crystal ball that tells you what your supporters like (and don’t like).
  • Play it safe: Email marketing is an opportunity to get creative! Don’t be afraid to try new things and push the boundaries a little.

By following these dos and don’ts, you’ll be well on your way to creating email campaigns that not only drive donations but also build a loyal community of supporters who are passionate about your cause.

Part 2: Slicing and dicing your email list

Picture this: You’re throwing a potluck dinner. Would you serve the same dish to your vegan friend as your carnivorous uncle? Probably not.

The same goes for your email list. You wouldn’t send a fundraising appeal to someone who just volunteered their time, right? That’s where segmentation comes in.

It’s like having different tables at your potluck, each with a dish tailored to the guests’ tastes.

Why segmentation matters: Because one size doesn’t fit all

Segmentation is the secret sauce to sending emails that get opened and clicked. You can send messages that resonate with each subscriber by dividing your list into smaller, more targeted groups.

Example: Imagine you’re an animal shelter. You could segment your list into:

  • Dog lovers
  • Cat lovers
  • Volunteers
  • First-time donors

Then, you could send targeted emails to each group, like a “Caturday Special” adoption event email for cat lovers.

Now, segmentation leads to higher open rates, more clicks, and ultimately, more donations and engagement.

Don’t believe me? Check out these stats:

  • Segmented email campaigns have an average open rate of 14.31%, compared to 10.64% for non-segmented campaigns.
  • Segmented emails generate 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails. (Hubspot)

Those are some serious numbers! And guess what? Tools like Icegram Express make it easy to create and manage segments right within your WordPress site.

So, how do you segment your list?

Types of segments: Divide and conquer

There are tons of ways to slice and dice your email list. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Demographics: Age, gender, location, etc. (For example, The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) sends emails focused on retirement planning, health insurance, and travel deals to their older audience, while a youth-focused nonprofit like uses a more casual tone and highlights volunteer opportunities related to social justice issues in emails to their younger audience.)
  • Interests: What are your supporters passionate about? (Example: The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) segments their list based on specific animal interests (dogs, cats, horses, etc.). They then send out targeted emails about adoption events, breed-specific care tips, heartwarming rescue stories, and fundraising campaigns tailored to those interests.)
  • Donation history: How much have they donated in the past? When was their last donation? (Example: The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers a special membership tier for their major donors, granting them access to exclusive events, behind-the-scenes tours, and personalized curator-led talks. They also communicate with these donors through personalized email updates and invitations.)
  • Volunteer status: Are they active volunteers? Have they expressed interest in volunteering? (Example: The Humane Society of the United States sends regular emails to their active volunteers, thanking them for their dedication and highlighting the positive impact of their work. They might also include updates on upcoming volunteer opportunities and training sessions.)

And guess what? Icegram Express makes it easy to create and manage segments right within your WordPress site. No need for a fancy CRM or complicated spreadsheets.

Nonprofit email marketing

Part 3: The storytelling secret sauce

Now that you’ve got your segments sorted, it’s time to write emails that make your supporters swoon.

The importance of storytelling: It’s not just for bedtime

Humans are wired for stories. We remember them, we connect with them, and they inspire us to take action.

So, weave stories into your emails – stories about the people you help, the challenges you face, and the victories you achieve.

Remember, your emails aren’t just about asking for money; they’re about building relationships and inspiring change.

Example: Instead of just listing facts and figures, share a story about a specific person your organization helped.

What to Do:

  • Use compelling subject lines: Think of it as the hook to your story.
  • Get to the point quickly: Keep your emails concise and focused.
  • Include a strong call to action: Tell your readers exactly what you want them to do (e.g., “Donate Now”).

What Not to Do:

  • Don’t be boring! Use humor, emotion, and personal anecdotes to keep your readers engaged.
  • Don’t oversell: Focus on building relationships and trust, not just asking for money.
  • Don’t forget the visuals: Images and videos can make your emails more appealing.

Need a little inspiration? Icegram Express comes with a variety of pre-designed email templates that you can customize to fit your brand and message. It’s like having a personal email designer on speed dial!

Part 4: Becoming a data detective

Alright, you’ve crafted heartwarming emails to make even the Grinch donate to your cause. But how do you know if they’re working?

It’s time to put on your detective hat and dive into the world of email analytics. Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds.

It’s pretty exciting to see how your emails perform and discover what resonates best with your audience.

Key email marketing metrics: Your secret decoder ring

Here’s a quick rundown of the most important metrics to track:

  • Open rate: The percentage of people who opened your email.
  • Click-through rate (CTR): The percentage of people who clicked on a link in your email.
  • Conversion rate: The percentage of people who took a desired action (like donating or signing up to volunteer) after clicking on a link in your email.
  • Unsubscribe rate: The percentage of people who unsubscribed from your email list after receiving an email.

These metrics are like clues that help you understand how your emails are performing.

  • Are people opening your emails?
  • Are they clicking on your links?
  • Are they taking the actions you want them to take?

By tracking these metrics, you can start to identify patterns and trends that will help you optimize your email strategy.

Icegram Express analytics: Your data sidekick

If the thought of sifting through spreadsheets of data makes you want to scream, fear not! Icegram Express comes with built-in analytics that makes it easy to track your email performance.

It’s like having a personal data analyst who crunches the numbers for you, so you can focus on making informed decisions about your email strategy.

Using data to improve: Leveling up your email game

Once you’ve got your data, it’s time to put it to work. Use your insights to experiment with different subject lines, content formats, and calls to action.

Try sending emails at different times of day or days of the week to see when your audience is most engaged.
Remember, email marketing is an ongoing process of learning and improvement.

The more you test and analyze, the better you’ll understand your audience and what makes them tick. And the better you understand your audience, the more effective your emails will be.

Spread the love (and the word) with email

Nonprofit email marketing isn’t just about fundraising; it’s about building relationships, fostering community, and inspiring action. By taking a heartfelt approach and following the best practices we’ve outlined, you can create emails that truly resonate with your supporters.

With the help of Icegram Express, you can automate your email marketing efforts, saving you time and resources while maximizing your impact.

So, what are you waiting for? Start crafting emails that make a difference, and watch as your nonprofit’s impact grows!

Ready to simplify your nonprofit email marketing?

Try Icegram Express for free today and discover how easy it is to create beautiful, engaging email campaigns that drive results.

Try Icegram Express for free


  • Q: I’m new to email marketing for my nonprofit. Where do I even start?
    A: No worries, we’ve all been there! Start by thinking about what you want to achieve with your emails (fundraising, awareness, etc.) and who you want to reach. Then, tools like Icegram Express can help you easily create awesome emails and track how they’re doing.
  • Q: I hear a lot about “email metrics.” What are the most important ones to keep an eye on?
    A: The big ones are open rate (how many people opened your email), click-through rate (how many people clicked on a link), and conversion rate (how many people took an action like donating). These numbers tell you what’s working and what’s not.
  • Q: How can I make my emails better over time?
    A: It’s all about experimenting! Try different subject lines, send times, or types of content. See what gets the best response, and keep doing more of that. Icegram Express has analytics to help you figure out what’s clicking (pun intended!).
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