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10 ways to connect with your donors through email

Email marketing is a great way to engage your donors and prospects. Personalizing such messages also bodes well—emails that are personalized see up to six times the transaction rate (read: donations) as compared to those emails that forgo personalization. So, what is there to talk about with your donors? We have a list of top ways to communicate via email with your donors to stay top-of-mind and engaged with them year-round. Check out these 10 types of nonprofit emails to send throughout the year.

1. Welcome email

It’s a great first step and one that your donors will appreciate—in fact, welcome emails have up to four times the open rate and five times the click-through rate than other types of emails. Make your welcome emails personal, inviting and provide fun information about your organization. Welcome emails can include those to new subscribers, to new online donors, new board members or new monthly donors.

2. Your story

You know the drill as a nonprofit—playing on emotions helps tell your story. But the fact is, you all have great stories to tell! Showcase your story using video, images, text, infographics or quotes and testimonials in way of consistent emails. Make it a series. Use catchy subject lines to draw your readers in. Think about what you are proud to share and relay that message in consistent email communication to your donors.

3. Holidays and celebrations

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day? Check. Bring Your Daughter to Work Day? Check. National or religious holidays? Check and check! Think about celebrations—large and small—that tie into your cause and share fun, short emails about those celebrations through email. Encourage your donors to snap pictures of themselves celebrating such holidays and use special hashtags on social media to engage with your organization. Make it light and fun. Bonus: the majority of charitable giving happens during holidays—think of how you can incorporate asks into these emails as you send them throughout the year.

4. Opportunities to get involved

Not all emails need to be about the dollars. Your supporters are looking for chances to get involved in non-monetary ways as well. Volunteer opportunities, open board positions or even employment opportunities are great ways to keep top-of-mind and keep your constituents interested in your cause.

5. Thank you messages

Thank you messages are great because they can be automatically scheduled to go out once a donor contributes online or fills out a contact or volunteer form on your website. The same holds true with event attendees—if you’re utilizing online event registration systems, you can automatically generate thank you emails to reach those attendees after your event. Regardless of if you send them atuomically, individually or through a combination of both, thank you emails are a critical part of engaging with your donors.

6. Newsletters and updates

A regular newsletter is a great way to plan ahead and keep your audience involved in everything happening with your cause. Use content or production calendars to plan recurring sections ahead of time and use this ongoing form of communication as a way to promote major milestones, reminders about events, new program updates or behind-the-scenes information. 

7. Event announcements

One great way to raise money for your nonprofit is through planned fundraising events. With these events, plan recurring email announcements such as save-the-dates, early bird registration dates, special pricing or matching gift options for donors who register by certain dates. Email is a great way to encourage your audience to share these events with their networks as well—either by forwarding the original email invite or by encouraging them to share on their social media networks. 

8. Surveys and feedback requests

Want to know what your donors want? Ask! Surveys are a great way to get insight into past events, what prompts donors to give or the types of communication they like to receive. Entice your readers to take the survey by entering all who participate into a drawing or to spell out how much time (the shorter the better) they should expect the survey to take. Be mindful of the amount of surveys you put out each year and ensure that you analyze the results to make informed decisions about how things can be updated or improved the next time around. 

9. Stories of impact

Think of how you can provide answers to the question “why do you give?” in email form. It may be through a short video, an infographic that showcases impact through numbers or quotes from past donors. These stories of impact can also include testimonials from those that receive your services or lead to a longer video that showcases your impact throughout the year.

10. Fundraising asks

Your fundraising campaigns should utilize email just as they may utilize social media, direct mail or other methods. Coordinate asks for your annual fund or capital campaign in email form. Think of how you can use drip email campaigns to connect with donors that click on links throughout the campaign (similar to when you’re shopping online and you receive a reminder email about something that’s still “waiting in your cart” to checkout).

When planning content for your donor emails, ensure that it is educational. It’s important that they understand the impact your organization has on your community and, likewise, for you to embrace being seen as subject matter experts in your arena. Use the five Ws (who, what, when, where, why) as a way to content-test your emails before they go out. Do they provide adequate information? Do they showcase your brand in a positive light? Do they provide all of the pertinent information your donors would need upon opening?

Looking for tools to support your nonprofit’s email marketing? Check out our suggestions for the top email marketing platforms for nonprofits. Share your thoughts with us—how are YOU using email to nurture your donors this year? Tweet us or share on our Facebook page.

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald is the President and Founder of 4aGoodCause, the fundraising CRM that makes recurring, monthly giving a breeze for small nonprofits.

For over 25 years, Ronald has had the joy of doing what he loves, building online solutions that make a difference in the world. He’s helped raise millions of dollars online for small nonprofits across the country. Connect with Ronald on LinkedIn.

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