When you send emails out to your supporters, are you sending one mass email to your whole email list?

While mass email marketing is a common strategy among nonprofits and for-profit companies alike, it is a big mistake.

Email is a great marketing channel since it gives direct access to someone’s inbox. Employing successful marketing tools for email can maximize the impact your email has on supporters.

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How to Grow Your Nonprofit Email List

One marketing strategy that could make your emails much more effective is the use of email list segmentation.

By segmenting email lists you can send targeted email content to different groups and see how these groups engage with different content.

When people donate to your cause, store their information in your donor management software. You can then use this data to better connect and appeal to your supporters.

Not sure where to start? Try segmenting your email marketing lists by:

1. New Email Signups

2. Volunteer History

3.  Geography 

4. Age

5. Donation History

6. Giving Capacity 

By segmenting your email lists, you can more effectively target your marketing messages to key donor groups. Let’s dive into these important email segmentation strategies!

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As soon as you get new people signing up for your nonprofit’s emails, you are already on a great track. Get a jump start on your marketing for the newcomers!

You may get new email signups as soon as a donor commits to their first donation or from separate signups on your website.

Email marketing is especially important right in the beginning. These first few emails are the most likely to be read by new supporters.

Send this special group of people unique emails to take the first steps in engaging your new supporters:

Thank them for signing up. Let these email recipients know you appreciate their support for your organization with an immediate thank you email. Tell them about your organization. Make sure new email signups know all about your organization and what impact they can make through you.

Tell them about upcoming events. Make sure your new supporters have the opportunity to get involved right away. 

In order to achieve these three things, make sure to have on hand a mission statement that you can share as you talk about your organization and a calendar of events.

Your mission statement will tell your new signups exactly the organization they are getting involved with. A compelling mission statement or story pulls at their heartstrings and boosts involvement.

A list of calendar events is important to have for any supporter. You want all your supporters at your events. However, it is especially important for newcomers to help them get involved with your cause early on.

When people make a donation, they are at the height of their engagement with your nonprofit. Building off of this engagement will improve the chances of that donor coming to your fundraising events, donating again, and volunteering for your cause.

Directly after a donation or a signup is also the time to send emails to recruit people for recurring donations and to inform them of other donation events and opportunities.

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One effective way to organize the people in your email list is to examine their volunteer history with your organization.

Those who have volunteered for your organization many times in person may require a different engagement strategy than those who have not yet volunteered.

Past volunteers, and especially those past volunteers who have also donated, are the most likely to come back and volunteer again for your organization. It is important to make them feel appreciated and let them know about more volunteer opportunities.

For individuals who consistently volunteer with your organization you may try including in your email:

  • A thank you message. Let the volunteers know you appreciate all their hard work with the occasional thank you. This is especially true right after a big event. Send a specialized messaging the day after showing your appreciation for event volunteers.
  • Volunteer grant information. Many corporate philanthropy programs financially match the time their employees volunteer with organizations. Read more about these programs and the top volunteer grant companies at 360 MatchPro.
  • A calendar of upcoming volunteer opportunities. Make sure your volunteers know about the upcoming opportunities for them to volunteer with your organization. Providing a calendar empowers them to plan volunteering into their schedule.

You still need to recruit new volunteers!

Reaching out to past volunteers is important, but you should also recruit new volunteers and make sure to keep them engaged with your organization.

Consider recruiting new volunteers from your group of past donors by highlighting specific upcoming events to entice them with a special fun volunteering opportunity.

Also, emphasize any benefits or prizes offered to volunteers such as t-shirts, discounts, etc.

Segmenting your email list to target your past volunteers differentiates your retention and recruitment techniques between past and new volunteers. When you are better able to appeal to each, you will see higher rates of volunteering with your organization.

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Geography is an especially important segmentation marker for organizations with many regional branches.

If your organization is spread across a few counties, states, or even countries, you may decide to segment your email lists based on location.

The most effective use of geographical segmentation is highlighting events closest to where particular email recipients live.

For example, if you are hosting a carnival in Kentucky, it may be a misuse of your time to emphasize that event to your supporters in New York.

Highlighting close-by events in your emails makes it more likely that those receiving the emails will show up because they will not have a long travel time.

Consider the appropriate distance that people may travel for certain events. You may host events which are:

    • Community-oriented events. These may include local fundraising events such as community cooking contests, a car wash, or a bake sale.
    • State-oriented events. Some statewide events may include bigger events such as a carnival, a large gala, or a museum giving night.
    • National events. National events are very big events for which your supporters will travel a great distance. These could include a concert with a famous musician or a major marathon.

Most organizations plan community events most frequently out of these. However, events big and small require a lot of planning.

Considering your audience of emails highlighting various events takes a lot of organization in itself. In order to maintain organization while planning events and specifying email marketing for appropriate audiences, you may consider using an event management system.

You are not limited to just one system. These competitive systems offer various capabilities based on the platform. Some even help you to segment your email list! Be sure to pick the system which best suits your needs.

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Consider appealing to various email recipients based on their age to highlight the aspects that are most likely to be exciting and effective for different age ranges.

Certain activities and opportunities are more suited for some ages rather than others. For example, young adults are more likely to be excited for social media involvement than an older generation.

In your emails to younger generations, emphasize involvement in your nonprofit such as:

  • Peer-to-peer fundraising. This strategy empowers young people to create fundraising pages to network online on behalf of your organization. Salsa’s peer-to-peer fundraising best practices guide provides more strategies to spread the word of your campaign.
  • Fundraisers targeting young adults. Fundraisers such as obstacle races and car smashes target young adults. Market these types of fundraisers to your young email audience.
  • Mobile giving options. Mobile giving and text-to-give options are highly effective among young people. Include a text-to-give number in your emails to inform them about these types of options! 

Develop email marketing streams based on the age of your audience and highlight the involvement options that appeal most to them!

Older audiences are less likely to be as tech-savvy as younger audiences. They may appreciate more traditional fundraising suggestions and events.

When reaching out to older audiences, highlight your nonprofit events such as product fundraisers, classy galas, and BBQ cook-offs.

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Appealing to past donors and recruiting new donors takes very different email marketing strategies because they have different end goals.

For past donors, your ultimate goal is for them to donate again. They have already shown their financial support before, so your goal is to continue what has already started.

To engage past donors, you have three important steps to take:

Say “thank you” right away. Your donors should always feel they have made a difference so show your appreciation as soon as possible when they donate.

Stay organized. Make sure you keep track of who has donated, how much they donated, and any other donation information in your donor database software.

Keep donors updated with your organization. When a donor gives, they want to know their money is going to a good cause. Tell them all about the good you’re doing!

Check to see if your past donors have used or are eligible for matching gifts programs. These are programs in which companies will match a proportion of the gifts their employees give to various organizations. If donors are eligible for matching gifts, encourage them to use the program.

For potential donors, your goal is to inform them of upcoming opportunities and the ease of donation.

Provide potential donors all the information they need to donate such as:

  • A direct link to your donation page.
  • Suggested amounts for donations.
  • Background on your fundraising campaign’s goal.

While marketing donation opportunities to past donors improves the likelihood of continued  support, marketing for new donors is about providing new information to ease their way to your donation page.

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Once you have segmented your past and future donors, their giving capacity can guide your next steps in email marketing.

Realizing giving capacity and marketing for it helps to maximize your donation amounts and helps with your fundraising plans.

Specifically, an insight to giving capacity can help you market toward major donors. To ease this searching process, hire a fundraising consultant to help with prospect research and wealth screening.

Fundraising consultants conduct this research with you using tools to indicate:

  • Past donations from prospective donors. Donations to your organization and to others help indicate how much they are capable of donating to you.
  • What kinds of organizations donors are interested in. Past charitable givings show what types of organizations they have donated to before and passions of donors.
  • How much property and stock people own. These factors give insight as to the wealth of a person and how much you may be able to ask of them.

Giving capacity shows the capacity for major donors so you can market your emails specifically to them.

Try hosting a gala for major donors! Send out an email invitation to bring them all together for good food, conversation, and a common cause.

When you market for major donors, it is even more important to avoid the common mistakes made in email campaigns such as poor subject lines and not following up. There is a lot riding on these emails, so make them count!

Each of these major donors would be an incredible addition to your support network so keep them interested with fascinating events, updates from the organization, and donation opportunities.

Segmenting your email list allows you to connect with various demographics of people and tailor the emails you send to best appeal to them. This successful email marketing strategy will help you boost your number of volunteers, donation sizes, event attendees, and more!


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How-to-Guide: Nonprofit Marketing Plan


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