Email Marketing for Nonprofits

Using email to start and grow relationships is easy for nonprofits. It is an inexpensive way to reach out to supporters on a regular basis with informative and inspiring messages. Doing this can help your organization build an engaged community that helps to promote your mission, fundraising, and special events.

Sample Emails

Subject: Help Us Make History | The Big Give


Have you dreamed of making history? Of course, we all have. And now we have a chance to be a part of your community's day of giving - an opportunity to unite our community around causes in which we truly believe and help nonprofit organizations connect to the larger community.

We need your help! Please join our campaign and help us reach our goal of $xxxx and xxx donors! We need you to tell your friends and family members about the important work we do and ask them to join us in helping to make a difference.

Get ready to give! On June 9th, starting at 12AM on June 9, visit and make a donation to us and/or to any of the great participating nonprofit organizations in your community. All giving will end at 11:59PM on June 9, so make sure to get your gift in on time!

Questions? If you have any questions or would like more information, let us know. [Add your contact information]. Thank you in advance for your generosity to our organization!

Subject: Ready to Lend a Helping Hand? | The Big Give


We’re counting down the days to June 9th and The Big Give. We need your help to make our campaign a success, and we’ve included a few easy ways that you can support us.

Share and share alike. Online days of giving are successful because of our own networks. Help us grow our network by sending this email to your network and ask your friends to do the same.

Be socially (media) active. Use your social media networks: post on Facebook, tweet about The Big Give, and share your love for your particular passion, whether it’s education, health care, animals, or the arts. Ask others to do the same.

Become a fundraising champion. Everyone loves a champion, including us! We really need fundraising champions to help drive people to our The Big Give profile on June 9th. Contact us for more information on how to become a fundraising champion!

Thank you in advance for your support!

Subject: Today’s the Day | Put Your Giving Shoes On


The Big Give is TODAY, and we are asking you to join us in our efforts to make this the most awesome day of giving your community has ever seen!

We are writing to ask you to take five minutes to give to [name of organization - make hyperlink to your The Big Give page]. After that, you can give to other nonprofits that do work that you support or just kick back and watch how high the giving can go at!

Your donation of any amount will help [give specific examples, or insert a sliding scale of what $25, $50, $100 etc can do].

Here’s how you can make a HUGE difference today:

  • Make a donation (link to your The Big Give page!)
  • Spread the word. Text a friend. Forward this email. Post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag BigGive21. Oh, and you can also just tell someone in person – that works, too.

Why use email marketing?

  1. Email is cheap!
    Your only expense is time, and if you use a scheduling service like Constant Contact you can set it and forget it.

  2. Email allows you to connect with people instantly.
    Need your donors and volunteers to do something now? Email allows immediate dissemination.

  3. Your donors and volunteers can respond quickly.
    Turnaround time on emails is 1-3 days.

  4. Email gives you information on how your campaign is working.
    Most people don't know that you can track open rates on emails and see how often your readers are using the links within them. Use this information to analyze how well your messaging is working, then tweak and send again.

  5. Email allows you to send the right message to the right reader.
    First time donor versus long time donor. Do you send them both the same message? What about volunteers? Your message should and can be crafted to engage your different constituents.

Let's Get Started

To begin a successful email marketing campaign the first thing you need to do is build an email list. Maintaining a complete and reliable list of constituents will directly impact the success of your campaign, events, and organization as a whole.

How to gather email addresses


Add a field for email on any materials that will be filled by your constituents. Be it a survey, a sponsorship commitment form, or any other response form; this is something that should always be included. Also, whenever at an event where there will be a number of your donors/volunteers attending, have a sign-in sheet and include a field for this. Be honest about why you want this info and ask them to always provide this information, as you'd like to be sure your records are up to date. If you are consistently providing them with engaging information they will not mind you contacting them via email.


The best place to gather email information is on your website. That being said, it is important that you are constantly driving people to your website by using your URL in your signature line of your email, on all print materials, and as often as possible in social media posts.

Once an individual lands on your website, prominently promote where folks can register for your newsletter, find more information about volunteering/donating, and view all your special events. Keep in mind that less is more! Do not ask for tons of information; a name and email is enough to get them started.


Though this falls under online, there are so many ways to generate interest in your organization by asking your current volunteers and donors to share information to their social networks. Whether it is a fundraising campaign, special event invitation, or newsletter, using your constituents to maximize your message can only help.

How to make sure your emails are being read

Getting your volunteers and donors to read and not delete your email is a difficult task. Across all industries the average open rate for email is about 20-40% with about 50% of that happening within the first 6 hours after you send the email ( Though there is no way to guarantee an increase in open rate, there are a few things you can try.

First and foremost make sure your list is up to date. If you are sending emails to boxes that don't exist anymore you are doing nothing to help your organization. Make it easy for your supporters to choose what types of emails they would like to see from you and how often.

Experiment with subject lines and definitely do not use the same one ALL THE TIME. Keep your content short and sweet, and put the most important information at the top of the message.

Try sending emails on a different day. If you always send your newsletter on the first Monday of every month and your open rate is 15%, it may be time to adjust.

Creating an Effective Email Campaign

Whether you are sending one email message, or multiple messages over a timeframe, strategic marketing is going to be very important. Given that this campaign is geared towards The Big Give you are going to want to be sure that each message is building upon the last and that they are directed to the appropriate segment of your constituent population.

Create a Communication Schedule

In the days and weeks leading up to The Big Give it is important to determine how frequently you want to communicate with donors and volunteers. You may have to adjust your schedule based on the feedback you get and you do not want to damage relationships or leave people feeling uninformed. Make sure to stay on top of the following items.

Coordinate all communications within your organization. If you have a marketing department have them help you develop a strategy for the entire organization. Otherwise you will need to communicate with all departments about what messaging is going out when so as not to bombard constituents with repetitive or competing messaging.

Pay attention to day and time of delivered emails. You may find that most of your constituents are only reading email on the weekends or first thing in the morning. You want to target your messages for whatever time garners you the highest open rate.

Let the importance of your messaging determine the frequency. As you get closer to The Big Give you will want to up the frequency. Do not make the mistake of bombarding your readers with messaging early on, as it will only decrease the importance of later messaging.

Choose the right message for the right recipient

First and foremost you want to make sure you know your audience. Is your message being directed to all constituents? Or might it better serve your intent by segmenting your list for a target audience? Second, make sure your message line is short and sweet; use action words that draw in the reader so that they will open your email.

Design the body of your email to elicit a response

A picture is worth a thousand words. Not only focus on images that draw the reader in, but also consider font, colors and layout as well. This is also a great way to include your brand within your message.

Keep the meat of the message above the fold. We all hope that if our emails are opened the whole thing is being read, but just in case, be sure the keep the most important items above the fold. If your readers have to scroll to find out what you want them to know they may just never get the message.

Even better, just keep it short. Don't send a novel, just share a highlight. Your constituents want to know how you're using their dollars to support the organization's mission, but as opposed to sending a detailed list, share some highlights along with a nice summary.

Send them to your website. Instead of putting everything in your email message, drive your readers back to your website. This allows you to keep your message short, but allow readers the opportunity to learn more if they like.

Personalize your message

Last but not least, always use your email marketing to create and develop relationships with your supporters by sending them messages that peak their interests, motivate them to action, and engages them in further dialog. Also, addressing your readers by name will add a personal touch to your email communications, and can help you to garner a better response rate. A good email marketing tool can help you to do this and allow you to track open rates as well.

Thank you in advance for helping make our The Big Give campaign a HUGE success!