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How to Boost Donor Loyalty with Your Email Campaigns: 4 Tips

The title of the article next to an image on an email inbox.

While marketing trends are always changing, it’s clear that the more traditional techniques—such as email marketing— are alive and well. In fact, 77% of marketers claim their email engagement has increased over the past year, indicating that email marketing isn’t going anywhere.

The key to effective email marketing is connecting with donors as individuals, optimizing your content, and making your emails more natural and compelling. When you take the time to enhance your email marketing strategy, you can boost donor loyalty and build lasting relationships with your supporters.

We’ll provide four email marketing strategies you can easily adapt to your organization. However, if you need more support when it comes to building your email marketing audience, maintaining a clean database, and managing ongoing campaigns, there are plenty of digital marketing experts that offer these services.

1. Append donor email addresses.

Before you craft the perfect, personalized email marketing campaign, you have to make sure your emails can actually reach your supporters. It’s extremely easy for your donor email address data to become outdated and inaccurate due to:

  • Typos
  • Donors changing jobs or graduating
  • Donors switching email addresses

Alternatively, you may be completely missing email addresses from some of your supporters. To ensure you have updated email addresses for as many supporters as possible, conduct a data append.

A data append supplements your database with information from third-party sources. When you append donor email addresses to your database, your nonprofit can improve email deliverability, increase open rates, and save time by only sending emails to the right recipients.

2. Use segmentation to create relevant content.

Avoid sending uniform content to your entire email audience. Instead, craft tailored campaigns for each segment of your audience. This approach allows you to create relevant content for each group while still taking advantage of the benefits of bulk outreach, such as saving time and resources.

Plus, marketers who implement segmented email campaigns see 30% more opens and 50% more click-throughs. To create your segments, group supporters by their shared characteristics. One approach is to segment supporters based on their involvement with your organization, grouping them into:

  • Prospects: Prospective supporters would appreciate introductory information that helps them get to know your organization better and motivates them to become donors.
  • New donors: The period right after a supporter has donated for the first time represents a critical moment to capture their ongoing attention. New donors would also benefit from introductory email campaigns and a welcome series that explores your organization’s mission and history.
  • Long-time donors: Long-term supporters are already on board with your cause and don’t need an introduction. However, these individuals are likely interested in discovering new ways to engage with your cause.
  • Recurring donors: Your monthly donors engage with your organization regularly and would likely be interested in your organization’s ongoing projects and fundraising progress.
  • Major donors: Major gifts have the potential to significantly increase your donation revenue, with mega-giving from six individuals and couples alone totaling $13.96 billion in 2022. Offer these supporters a variety of ways to contribute to your cause, such as planned giving, stock contributions, and donor-advised funds (DAFs).
  • Volunteers: According to 360MatchPro, the current value of a volunteer hour is $31.80. In addition to the value of their time—both monetary and otherwise—these supporters are likely to contribute their funds to your organization as well. Create a volunteer segment to share both donation and volunteer opportunities.

When you segment your audience, you can connect them with opportunities that align with their interests and preferences—whether that’s donation solicitations, volunteer experiences, or any other engagement opportunities. This personalization leads to greater supporter satisfaction, and in turn, a stronger sense of loyalty to your nonprofit.

3. Humanize your communications.

No one likes feeling like they’re just a cog in your organization’s machine. If your email campaigns feel cold, robotic, or impersonal, donors won’t be inclined to continue engaging with your nonprofit.

The solution? Put a human touch in all email correspondence. Here are a couple of ways you can humanize your fundraising emails:

  • Tell a cohesive story. Give your organization a human face by telling your story through the lens of the people involved in your nonprofit, such as staff members or beneficiaries. This way, your current and potential supporters can better understand what your organization does and how it helps community members. You may go a step further by adding a video that features your staff or beneficiaries explaining their story firsthand, deepening the personal connection donors form with your nonprofit.
  • Use “you” statements. Keep the focus of your emails on your audience members, not your nonprofit. For instance, instead of saying “Our organization builds homes for worthy community members,” you can say “It’s because of generous donors like you that our community members can have a home of their own.”
  • Acknowledge each supporter’s individual involvement. Start with a personalized greeting to make your communications feel more genuine. Then, reference data you’ve stored about supporters’ involvement history so they feel appreciated as individuals. For instance, you might say “Thank you for your donation of $25 to our Save the Whales campaign” or “We noticed you recently joined our tree planting volunteer day and wanted to send along a few similar opportunities.”

By personalizing your email outreach and adding a human element, you entice supporters to click on your messages, leading to higher engagement and return on investment (ROI).

4. Create the right cadence.

The frequency of your email campaigns should feel natural and inviting to recipients, not annoying or obtrusive. Of course, that’s easier said than done. There is no magic formula that will help you see the greatest ROI because every organization is different. However, you can start to find the right balance by understanding what types of emails you should be sending. These might include:

  • Welcome emails. When you connect with a new supporter for the first time, you’ll want to send a slightly higher number of emails than you would for a long-time subscriber who already knows all about your nonprofit. Use your introductory emails to welcome new supporters to your organization and lay out everything they need to know about your mission, goals, and the community members you serve.
  • Emails describing multiple ways to get involved. Your volunteers don’t just want to hear about volunteer opportunities—just like your donors don’t just want to hear about donation opportunities. Use your email campaigns to invite supporters to engage in a wide variety of ways, from attending your events to participating in your peer-to-peer fundraisers to leveraging corporate philanthropy opportunities.
  • Recurring newsletters. Along with your more targeted email campaigns, you may also send out an occasional newsletter. Your newsletters can provide updates on ongoing projects and programs as well as any upcoming events you have on the calendar. For example, if you’re running a #GivingTuesday campaign, include details in your November newsletter about how your supporters can get involved.

Once you have a clear understanding of the type of emails you want to send, determine how often you’ll distribute them. For example, perhaps you send a series of five emails across five weeks as part of your welcome series. Additionally, you may decide to send one newsletter a month to provide a broad overview of your activities.

Donor loyalty can be a challenging objective to achieve. However, with strategic audience research and a personalized email communication approach, you can work more effectively to meet donors where they are and appeal to their interests.

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