Dos and Don’ts of Email Marketing for Nonprofits

November 23, 2022 CONRIC PR

Effective email marketing can be a primary source of communication for any organization but is especially important for nonprofits with the incentive of spreading the word on their mission and impact. Relationships with donors and supporters take time and continued effort and email helps cultivate these critical connections by keeping them informed. Incorporating the following strategies will help you develop more engaging communications that put your message and mission at the forefront during the holiday inbox influx.

DO have an attention-grabbing subject line. Believe it or not, this can make or break the entire email. Keep it succinct, urgent, and, most important – impactful! The wording needs to get them to want to know more and open the email. What could you say to stand out from all the other noise, especially during the giving season when inboxes are inundated with sales pitches and donation opportunities? Consider what the organization means to its supporters on a personal level and what you are asking of them. Think about what makes you open the emails you personally decide to give attention to and try using some of those same techniques.

DON’T use all CAPS or numerous emojis and punctuation. This will land you in a spam wasteland, and an email doesn’t matter if nobody reads it. Don’t use the same subject lines repeatedly, or lines everyone else is using. Remember, you want to stand out, but do so with a meaningful and impactful statement rather than shouting in caps and characters.

DO keep things simple and easy to use. Chances are if someone joined your mailing list, they know and appreciate that the organization is hard at work. Tell them about what you are doing in a short yet personal way that is touching. Stick to one: one storyline, one key message, and do it in a way that is impactful, compelling, and supports your one call to action. Too many competing messages, colors, and visuals can be overwhelming and confusing and will cause you to lose the reader, possibly even lose them as a subscriber altogether. Also, avoid becoming spam by using one recognizable email address when reaching out to them.

DON’T forget to be device-friendly! Most people read email on their phones. Lengthy subject lines that get cut off and cluttered, poorly displayed messages are frustrating to navigate. If you need help, it’s worth hiring a pro to make sure your content has the best chance of being seen.

DO use captivating imagery and videos. A picture is worth a thousand words! Use gripping images and videos to help drive your call to action. Connecting your work to the readers’ support through images and videos is a great way to show them why they continue to support the organization and the impact they are helping you to have. Imagery and design are part of branding which communicates feeling and values; extremely important concepts to consider when provoking emotional response to drive your call to action in support of a cause.

DON’T use huge files that take forever to upload. The message needs to load as quickly as possible. Use links for videos and only use images that are appropriately sized for optimal use in email. If it takes too long to load, people will simply move on.

DO include a clear call to action (CTA). Your CTA needs to be clear and direct. It also needs to stand out. These emails typically state the problem, what the organization does to help, and what you need the reader to do (your one CTA). Buttons labeled “DONATE” make CTAs obvious and they have become a recognizable way to direct the reader. CTAs also allow you to see who is actually opening your emails, track and analyze conversion data, and make improvements to increase your effectiveness and optimize your efforts.

DON’T forget to thank your donors and subscribers. Not only can you show the impact the organization is having, but this is also a great opportunity to thank your supporters who make it all possible. There are countless ways to show appreciation. Be creative and genuine in your approach. Everyone loves recognition, and the more you personalize the message, the more emotionally connected they will feel to the organization and supporting the cause.

Essentially, the goal of CTA email from a nonprofit is to maximize donations and other forms of support that engage with your mission and values. Email campaigns are a great way for nonprofits to share accomplishments and show the effect donations and volunteers are having on the cause and to garner continued support. Stand out among competitors. Let the team of professionals at CONRIC pr + marketing help you navigate the complexities of the digital consumer experience. Visit, or contact our team at or (239) 690-9840 ext 1001.

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