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Why Email Automation is Essential for Nonprofits and 5 Ways to Nail it

Nonprofits are swamped with a list of tasks that need to be addressed with limited resources at hand. And, a streamlined, effective email workflow in ...

Nonprofits are swamped with a list of tasks that need to be addressed with limited resources at hand. And, a streamlined, effective email workflow in place is exactly the kind of setup that an industry with resource crunch needs! An average open-rate for nonprofit emails is 25.17%, which is considerably high looking at other industries. Email marketing is the most impactful tool with the potential to drive recurring donations, and not at any cost should nonprofits sideline such an imperative source of their fundraising revenue. 

Email marketing for nonprofits is bringing in new and improved ways to connect and communicate with the fundraiser community. And with the right email automation practices in place, nonprofits can accomplish their fundamental objective of making a difference. As a nonprofit organization, your benefactors are the most crucial members, and well-founded email automation can fill in a lot of communication gaps on your behalf! That being said, let’s dive a little deep into how email automation can benefit nonprofits.

Why is email automation essential for nonprofits?

Email automation is all about leveraging the technology to create campaigns that are personalized. Here are a few examples of how email automation can make a difference when utilized for nonprofits.

Automation helps in donor retention

Donor retention is the most cogent aspect of the nonprofit industry. Email automation allows you to automatically send a series of emails over the time that are targeted for donor-triggers, letting you converse better! 

The moment someone donates to your nonprofit, automated email series initiates with a ‘thank you’ email and goes on for various aspects like getting to know the donor better, sending them event invites, storytelling, and impact-based emails. This way, the automation tool leverages the data by segmenting different donors into different groups allowing you to treat them differently. A total of 53% of donors leave due to charity’s lack of communication, and email automation can fill this gap by constantly being in touch with them in some or the other manner.

Email automation for nonprofits is cost-effective

Another reason, and more of a benefit for nonprofits to incorporate email marketing automation is the cost-effectiveness. Nonprofits are here to make a difference, and the digital industry is nothing but ‘all support’ when there is a charity on the line! The big players in the email marketing industry like Mailchimp, GetResponse, AWeber, Drip, Campaign Monitor, and more provide email automation tools at a discount for the nonprofits. And that’s not it, companies also provide free HTML email templates or custom email design services to help charities run their campaigns swiftly.

It helps in measuring the marketing efforts

Email automation tools are equipped with technology that can measure various metrics for a campaign. Nonprofits can analyze the kind of message that is creating an impact and the ones which need improvements. With the availability of email campaign metrics like open rates, click-through rate, unsubscribe and more, nonprofits can learn and implement the most engaging email campaigns that drive positive results.

Email automation for nonprofits is useful in many ways. Organizations are making use of it at every step of their donor-lifecycle stage. Now that we have understood the essence of why you should be using email automation for your nonprofit, let’s get to understand ‘how’ to do it (with examples).

5 ways to nail the nonprofit email automation

Dive into the ways and concepts for email campaigns that successful nonprofits are undertaking. The following are the methods you can employ to nail the process. 

You MUST Send Welcome Emails

The importance of onboarding has been emphasized enough and nonprofits aren’t an exception. Acknowledgment is the truest form of forming a connection and welcome emails, in any industry, are thus essential. 

There are multiple welcome email campaigns that you might have to set when you’re into nonprofit. You don’t only welcome someone who makes a donation for your organization but also those who showed interest in receiving your newsletter. It is significantly important to segment your subscribers, donors, and volunteers’ lists for your email automation workflow to yield desired outcomes for you. You need to treat your prospects and donors separately in a way where both the groups are nurtured. Check out the following email templates for a better understanding.

Charity: Water

When you sign up for the newsletter by Charity: water, they send a welcome email with a list of valuable elements. They don’t just welcome you, but instead, they show compassion by saying ‘you matter’ and show how any small amount can make a difference. Check their email out…

Welcome Emails
Source: Really Good Emails

Another email by Charity: water below is how they’re thanking their supporters with a detailed note. Check it out.

Welcome Email
Source: Really Good Emails

Tell them how you’re making a difference

Building trust is how nonprofits can generate more donations and continue to serve their purpose. You need to tell people where their funds are being utilized and how it is making a difference. 

Email automation can help you send inbound marketing content by crafting campaigns around how you are making a difference. Here’s an example:

Email automation sample
Source: Really Good Emails

The Feeding America initiative is a great inspiration for nonprofits for how they can get detail-oriented by showing some numbers. Tell exactly where the funds are going and how it is helping the community to live a better life.

Humanize before you automate

Designing your email automation campaigns with a personal touch is all it takes. But mind well, we’re not talking about email personalization here! Nothing connects people better than a story, and nonprofits are already fighting for issues that people empathize with. Adding a storytelling element in your emails will increase your chances for people to get more involved. Be it a story about how your brand started working for a cause or a story about someone affected by the cause, the more human it gets, the more real it gets. Here’s how it can be done.

email personalization
Source: Really Good Emails

This email by Help for Heroes portrayed how others like Carl need help. Adding a name to the cause changes how donors and supporters see this cause. The human element in it tells the story more impactfully.

Incentivize their donation

Any amount of donation matters but the more the merrier! Time to time, try coming up with campaigns that inspire people to donate. It can be done by:

  • Giving cashbacks
  • Letting them know how far you’ve reached and there are only a few dollars left to reach the target
  • Providing a time frame, or
  • Doubling their donation amount

Send emails with such triggers that encourage them to make a donation. Have a look at the email design below.

Incentivize their donation mail sample
Source: Really Good Emails

The gesture of matching the amount collected by Patagonia shows how much they care for the cause they’re fighting and at the same time, gives enough boost to the people who plan on donating. Here’s another email for reference by Me and We.

Source: Really Good Emails

Show the impact and personalize

Personalization is at email automation’s core and target-based emails go a long way irrespective of the industry you’re in. When raising funds, people already feel dearly toward whatever they’re donating, and a simple gesture of how their donation made a difference should reflect in your campaign. Take a look…

Source: Really Good Emails

The CARE Australia campaign provides affirmation for the year-long association with them. The numbers also reflect a sense of belonging when contributed to a charity, and CARE uses the same to grab attention.

Wrap Up

Reach, Reiterate, Grow – and that’s what email automation can offer to the nonprofit organizations. Incorporating email automation for your nonprofit gives you ample room to focus on other tasks. The tools are capable of outreach, onboarding, communicating, and retaining!

Email automation is a blessing in not-so-disguise for the nonprofits that want to grow their email list, stay connected with their well-wishers and donors, and also increase the donations they receive.

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Kevin George

Kevin is the Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest-growing full-service email marketing companies. He is an email enthusiast at heart and loves to pen down email marketing content. You can reach him at or connect with him on LinkedIn.



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