By Ines Alvergne, Content Marketing Specialist at Keela – a cloud-based CRM and fundraising platform that gives nonprofits powerful, intelligent tools to manage your donors, mobilize your volunteers, market your nonprofit, and raise more money.

Your emails can do wonders in connecting people with your mission and raising money for your cause.

But, you will quickly saturate your base of supporters if all your communications revolve around fundraising asks. 

Sending email communications is your chance to ignite strategic conversations with your donors, members, volunteers, and subscribers. And you need relevant, inspiring content to keep them around. 

Here are some examples of emails you can send to foster relationships and increase people’s engagement with your organization. 

1) Welcome email

First impressions matter.

Although often overlooked, welcome emails are the most important piece of communication you’ll send. 

Why it matters: 

Making an effort to welcome each subscriber goes a long way toward building long-term relationships. And the proof is in the email statistics. These are some of the most engaging types of communication, with a 10% higher read, compared to other marketing emails. 

This is your unique chance to give a memorable introduction to your organization and to connect new supporters to your cause. 

How to do it right: 

A welcome email is usually short in copy and visually attractive – recipients should be able to scan over it very quickly. You don’t want to bore your audience right from the start of your relationship. Instead, you want to create a sense of excitement for being part of your community.

The content should thank subscribers for subscribing as well as let them know what they can expect to receive from you. 

To nail your welcome campaign, you should create different emails based on how the relationship with new supporters was established. In other words, you should communicate to each audience group – including donors, members, volunteers, event attendees, and subscribers – in a way that is relevant to them. This is the first step in creating strong, steady audience engagement. 

Take a look at Hope for Justice’s welcome email for subscribers. The email copy is short, yet powerful. The email also includes a video from the organization’s CEO – and, videos have proven to be particularly good at engaging email readers.

2) Update email on the impact made

This email is a key piece in your donor retention strategy

Why it matters: 

You should always show gratitude to your supporters, that’s the heart of donor retention.

But, you can take it to the next level by communicating how donors’ contributions are making a difference. Reporting back to your donors is important because it acts as a powerful motivator for future campaigns. 

How to do it right:

There are many different ways of reporting on someone’s donation – it all depends on what your organization does.

You can highlight where the donation is going or show how close you are from reaching your goal. Use infographics or statistics – anything that helps visualize the impact made. 

But you don’t necessarily need to use quantitative data all the time. You can also tell powerful stories through the testimonials of the people you serve. 

For instance, Backpack Buddies gathered the messages they received from their community and wrapped it in a beautiful message full of gratitude. 

3) Newsletter

The bread and butter of audience engagement. 

A newsletter is the perfect example of an email campaign that has the power to inspire, excite, and engage readers. 

Why it matters: 

A newsletter gives the opportunity for your supporters to engage with your mission over the long term. 

More importantly, sending this type of email is your chance to build trust with your audience. People will donate or volunteer to organizations they trust. And to build credibility you need to deliver relevant, trustworthy content on a regular basis. 

How to do it right: 

It mostly comes down to knowing your audience. Ask yourself: What are they interested in? Which stories will resonate the most? Then think about what you can offer: What topics are you an expert on? What kind of information would benefit your mission the most? 

Keep in mind that readers want to be entertained through informative, educational, and concise updates. Try to come up with a specific topic for each newsletter to make your ideas consistent. 

In addition, make sure it is well designed, including enough white space and separate sections, to make it easy to read through. 

For example, the Great Ormond Street Hospital’s newsletter not only includes news about their work, but also upcoming fundraising events, and an inspiring spotlight story. It is also very well designed, with colors that match their branding and the content is placed in well-defined sections. 

If you’re looking for more content inspiration, check out these 35 ideas to create a compelling nonprofit newsletter.

4) End of the year email

At the end of the year, most nonprofits tap into the holiday spirit to raise money for their cause. 

But this season is also a good time to share your reflections on the achievements over the last 12 months. 

Why it matters:

Your supporters want to hear about the incredible things you have accomplished.

Plus, this is the perfect opportunity to show appreciation to your devoted supporters. 

How to do it right:

Here, storytelling is key.  

Remember that people receive tons of messages during the year-end. To be heard above the chatter, you’ll want to craft a captivating email – something that goes beyond your usual newsletter copy – to connect with your audience. 

Look at how Oxfam is telling the story of Bekki to emotionally connect with readers. This is much more immersive than any standard email. By drawing on emotions, this email sends a memorable message and inspires action for the coming year. 

5) Email survey

Email surveys can capture essential insights that help you refine your communications and deliver the right content to the right people. 

Why it matters: 

Surveys are the best ways to get into the minds of your email recipients. 

You shouldn’t have to guess what your supporters want from you. Understanding why donors give to you, what type of relationship they want to have with your organization, or why they read your newsletter will help you deliver the right message and ultimately improve retention. 

How to do it right: 

The first thing is to consider when crafting your email survey is the results you’re looking for. What do you want to learn? And, why do you need this information? These questions should guide the framing of your questionnaire but also the tone of your email content. 

Now, there are a couple of things you can do to increase your response rate:

  • Let readers know that their feedback will influence the future actions of your organization. 
  • Appeal to your supporter’s emotions and make them feel important. Let recipients know you are asking for their feedback because they are the heart of your organization. 
  • Make sure to tell readers exactly how long the survey should take them. 
  • Finally, let them know how you will use the results. 

In the example below, Save the Children nailed all the elements of an engaging survey email. 

BONUS: Re-engagement email

You wrote beautiful emails, told the most impactful stories, and listened to the feedback of your readers, but some subscribers just aren’t opening your emails. What can you do?

The goal of a re-engagement email is to reach out to subscribers who were at some point interested in your organization but have now stopped interacting with your content. 

Why it matters:

The average email open rate among nonprofits is 17%. This means that for most nonprofits, the majority of your subscribers are not opening your emails. 

There are several reasons why you should do something about inactive subscribers:

  • Email services use email metrics to rank your emails in the inbox. Having a lot of inactive contacts in your lists hurts your sender reputation and your emails might end up in the spam folder. 
  • They cost money. If you’re using a Nonprofit CRM, chances are the pricing plan is based on the number of contacts you have. 
  • It skews your email marketing metrics. How can you know if your open rate is low because of the copy of your subject line or simply because most of your email list turned inactive? 

That’s why the best call is to remove inactive subscribers from your email list. 

But before reaching this point, there’s still something you can do: A re-engagement email is your last effort to remind subscribers about the importance of your cause. 

How to do it right: 

Inactive subscribers likely don’t remember signing up to receive your updates. To grab their attention you need to go bold. 

Don’t hesitate to be creative with your subject line. You can try something different from the email you usually send. For instance: “We miss you? Let’s reconnect”, “Are you breaking up with us?”, or simply “Let’s catch up”. 

In the email copy, remind inactive contacts why they signed up and show them what they’ve missed. Tell them about your recent achievements, share a success story, share your highest-performing blog, or simply use a funny gif like Heal the Bay. The goal here is to give them a powerful incentive to come back.

5 Email Templates to Delight Donors 

To attract visitors, inspire them to donate, and then retain them as a donor is a complex process.

Download and use these templates to send the right email at just the right moment and maximize your donations.

5 Nonprofit Emails That DON’T Ask For a Donation