Email Techniques for Donor Communication

People who work in nonprofit email communication programs understand that too many emails equals increased unsubscribes, lower open rates and reduced click-throughs. However, with average nonprofit open rates at 13 percent and click-through rates at 2.1 percent, there is a good reason why nonprofits should send several emails to subscribers — crowded inboxes.

As in-boxes become more and more crowded, the likelihood of an email being left unread is high. Thus, sending constituents multiple emails gives them several chances to take action. With multiple emails being distributed, knowing how to approach or respond with follow-up emails is crucial.

Mike Snusz, a senior consultant with Blackbaud, has five follow-up email strategies from top nonprofits to help fight against the crowded inbox.

  • Related News of the Day — When sending a follow-up email, leverage what is making news that day to add urgency.
  • Progress Update — Before asking for a donation, update constituents about the current situation and which goals have been met. This approach is a great way to grab attention, draw readers in and make another ask.
  • “In Case You Didn’t See This”– Include in an email a brief note such as, “I wanted to be sure you saw our email from Monday.” This strategy can be used to briefly explain why another email is being sent. It is a great way to get attention, or simply to explain the reason for sending another email. However, be careful to not send the wrong tone. Try to relay a casual and non-confrontational tone within the message.
  • Deadline Alert — Sending multiple emails asking for help can sometimes seem redundant to constituents. However, including a brief note stating the imminent deadline or starting the subject line with “deadline” can effectively convey the urgency of the need.
  • Same Theme, Different Options — Send emails that have the same underlying purpose, but give constituents different options and ways to help the organization.

About Gary Coiro

Nonprofit & Church Leader Nonprofit Leader and Consultant since 2004, following 15 years as a pastor. Competencies include board development, fundraising, staff development and management, strategic planning, church work, Bible teaching, and capital campaigns. Currently consulting and serving on the Church Ministries Management Team for a large multi-cultural evangelical church.
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