6 Tips for More Engaging Nonprofit Email Marketing

Woman jumping in the air holding a laptop against an aqua-colored background.

I’m amazed by the amount of spam I receive, specifically email lists I’m added to without my permission by someone who I don’t know. 

Email marketing is a great way to reach qualified prospects—the key here is the word qualified. Adding people indiscriminately to your mailing list in the hopes of making your list bigger can backfire: your messages will get marked as spam, which can lead to getting your account shut down.

So, what’s the right way to approach email marketing? Focusing on quality, not quantity. For example, my list is small but very targeted, so every email newsletter I send results in a reconnection, conversation, or new project.

Here are some ways to do email marketing right:

Keep a clean list

Maintaining a clean email list is crucial for the health of your nonprofit’s email marketing efforts. Regularly review your list and remove contacts who are no longer engaging or have outdated email addresses. This helps to ensure that your emails are reaching an engaged and interested audience, improving your open and click-through rates. A clean list also reduces the risk of your emails being marked as spam, which can harm your sender reputation and overall deliverability.

Be very careful when adding names

Add people to your email list who have explicitly given permission to be included. This can be done through a website sign-up form (created in your email app), during the donation process, during event registration, or through other consent avenues. Adding contacts without their permission can lead to higher unsubscribe rates, and spam complaints, and can damage your nonprofit’s reputation.

Write for your audience

Tailoring your email content to the interests and needs of your audience is key to keeping them engaged and subscribed. If your emails are irrelevant to your audience, they are more likely to unsubscribe or mark them as spam. Segment your list to provide more personalized content, for example, donors may receive different content than general followers. Focus on providing value and connecting with your subscribers.

Have an opt-in freebie on your website

Consider offering a freebie, such as a report or case study, to grow your email list. This not only builds your list but also ensures that your new subscribers are genuinely interested in your offerings.

Give them an out

Make sure every email you send includes a clear and easy way to opt out or unsubscribe. This is not only a legal requirement, but also a best practice to maintain trust with your audience. If subscribers know they can easily unsubscribe, they are more likely to sign up in the first place. This also helps maintain a clean list of engaged contacts.

Focus on quality, not quantity

While aiming for a large email list might be tempting, quality is far more important than quantity. A smaller list of engaged followers is more valuable than a large list of uninterested recipients. Remember, it only takes a handful of successful connections to generate significant results.

Effective email marketing hinges on the quality and relevance of your subscriber list. By keeping your list clean, adding new contacts intentionally (and with permission), and creating content that connects and resonates with your audience, your followers will stay engaged—and subscribed.

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