A Monthly Email Marketing Strategy to generate donor dollars (it can be done)

digital marketing donations email marketing fundraising marketing strategy May 18, 2017

Part 1: How To Create Compelling Content

Time for a little affirmation, my friend. YOU are a smart, savvy leader of a nonprofit organization. YOU are deeply committed to your organization’s mission to make the world a better place. And like so many other heart-centered, purpose-driven nonprofit leaders, you struggle with how to commit your resources and time to effective marketing. Shouldn’t those resources be used to fund your mission - not talk about it?  

I totally get it - it’s a constant tug-of-war in your heart and mind. But here’s the thing: people have to know about you in order to use your services or support your mission. It’s marketing that keeps your organization top of mind and generates the donations, volunteers and advocates you need to continue to make the impact you most want in this world.

And email marketing is one of the best marketing tools you can use!

But wait, I know what you’re thinking. Planning and developing a monthly e-mail marketing and communications plan seems, well, just daunting, doesn’t it?

Coming up with a plan, developing content, preparing your email list, worrying about graphics, and then distributing. It’s all too much given your limited time, expertise, and resources.

Or is it?

It really doesn’t have to be that big of an ordeal. There are tips, tricks and tools that can help you streamline the process and make it happen. That’s what this three-part email marketing series is all about. I’ll guide you through a step-by-step process that works, even with limited time, staff and resources.

Here are two really important things I want you to take away from this, that I can absolutely assure you of:

1.     Email campaigns to generate donor dollars are still effective – especially for nonprofits.

2.     It’s easier than you think.

Ready? Let’s go.  

Email Campaigns Still Work

Maybe you’ve heard that email open rates have been plummeting and everyone has too many emails in their inbox that they don’t read. That seems to make sense, right? This is why we don’t set up our phones to ping every time we get an email - we’d go crazy! So why put all this time into a monthly email marketing plan if it’s just going to wind up in the virtual trash?

Well, because numbers don’t lie. And according to the recent release of the M+R 2017 Benchmark Study, even though email open rates are down, email revenue grew by 23%. That’s faster than the rate of online revenue growth overall (websites, digital advertising, social media campaigns, etc.) In fact, email giving accounted for 26% of all online revenue. Nonprofits received $36 in donations for every 1,000 fundraising email messages sent.

So how is that possible? How did email giving increase with open rates, click-through rates, and response rates all in decline?

More is More

There are conflicting opinions about the correct amount of emails to send to your subscribers, but the M+R study indicates that “more is more” - when you send more emails, you get more results. You might get people who opt-out because of the frequency, but that’s okay. It means the people who do receive your emails are the ones most attuned to your messaging and mission. They “get” you, they believe in your mission and want to be by your side as you strive to make a positive impact in the world. That means they are also more likely to rise to the occasion when you ask for donations, volunteers or other support through email.

Major Findings Showing Email Success

Take a look at this. According The M+R Benchmark Study:

●      Email list size grew by 10% in 2016

●      Overall online revenue grew by 15% in the last year.

●      Monthly giving accounted for 17% of all online revenue with an average $23 gift (vs. $87 one-time gift)

●      The average nonprofit sends subscribers on their lists 69 email messages in a year (24 for fundraising, 20 for advocacy and 11 e-newsletters).

It’s Easier Than You Think

So - 69 emails in one year, huh? I know, I know - it looks like a big number. But don’t let it freak you out. Baby steps, remember. Side-by-side. I’ve got you covered.

The overall goal here is to nurture your list. I know you value and appreciate everyone who has come along side you to help support your mission. If you think about email marketing as a way of showing them ‘the love,’ sharing successes, stories of impact and need with heart and soul, then it all starts to flow. It’s what feeds your soul and keeps you going day after day – why you do what you do, right? Now we’re just going capture all that goodness and put it in an email to share with those who want to hear about it. They have raised their hand with sincere interest in your mission and reached in their pockets to support you. There is no reason you should feel any appreciation about sending frequent emails – they want to hear from you.  

It’s like planting seeds and watering your garden. It’s a joyful process that brings goodness to life.

Here’s how we’re going to make your email marketing garden grow.

First, it’s all about tilling the soil. Digging up stories, messages, words and phrases that communicate your mission and impact. And to help get you started, all you have to do is download the ‘Content Is Queen Creation Machine’ to help make this process manageable and fun.  

I promise: if you take the time to do this now, the process of developing and implementing a bountiful email marketing plan will begin to sprout with joy and ease.


In our next blog, we’ll cover the five simple steps to developing an email marketing and communications plan editorial calendar. It’s the next step to help you simplify the process of creating an effective and consistent email marketing plan that generates long-term support.