Creating your next fundraising campaign requires a lot of work: you must identify your goals, your audience, segment your lists, create compelling content, and set up and test everything in your CRM.

When the moment finally arrives to call your constituents to action, the last thing you want is for your hard work to be whisked away into a junk folder, never to be seen by your supporters.

How will you hit your fundraising goals if you are not able to engage? We are here to help you with 5 ways to supercharge your email campaigns through improved Email Deliverability.

1) Email Deliverability 101

Most sources agree that there are about 330 billion emails sent globally every single day, which comes out to 3.5 million emails per second. That is a LOT of email.

With all that bouncing around, it makes sense that email clients like Gmail and Outlook regulate what makes it into inboxes. And unfortunately, according to this 2019 study, it’s estimated that nonprofits lost out on almost $93M due to low deliverability rates in 2018.

Email Deliverability is the process of tracking how successfully your emails are reaching inboxes. This seems obvious, and perhaps out of your control, but there is a lot you can do to increase your rates and make sure your critical fundraising appeals and advocacy alerts reach your donors and activists.

2) Ensure your Supporters are Opting-in (and then Opting-in again)

Double Opt-in, also called Confirmed Opt-in, is an important first step in ensuring that your supporters want to be emailed.

With this approach, when users submit information through your website, they receive an auto-generated email that asks them to confirm that they want to be receiving emails from your organization.

In addition to the strict regulations around the world that prevent marketers from sending emails to folks who don’t want them, this is especially important to ensure people are signing up for the content they want.

This means that you can focus your communication efforts on supporters who want to be contacted, increasing engagement.

3) Email Your Most Engaged Supporters

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when thinking about deliverability is buying, renting, or sharing email lists. Focus on growing your list organically to ensure participants are interested in receiving your emails (SendGrid has a great blog post on this topic here). After growing your email lists organically, it can be a tough task to go through your email list and remove recipients.

Ensuring good list hygiene will benefit your organization in the long run, though – routinely removing unengaged subscribers and invalid emails helps with your organizations deliverability by allowing your email service provider to maintain a strong reputation. By having a strong reputation, your emails are given the green light to land into inboxes.

If an email address has been inactive (i.e., not clicking, opening, or otherwise engaging with your content) for a year or more, it’s time to remove them. The same goes for email addresses that have bounced 2-3 times.

4) Create Engaging Content

You have a list of people who have opt-ed in, and your list is engaged. Now what?

Using a tool that gives you a 360-degree view of your supporters (for example, EveryAction or HubSpot) will allow you to target messaging based on any number of criteria. Target event invitations based on location, appeals based on giving history, and action alerts based on areas of shared interested.

Content should be engaging, customized, and targeted. We live in a world where data is collected about our habits and we expect personalized ads, content, and asks, so ensure that your content is personalized and targeted to your recipients.

5) Pay Attention to the Technical Stuff

Underneath the hood of your email program there is a lot going on – and just like you need to do with your website, there are settings that must be right for your emails to pass the stiff test.

There are a few terms that are important to understand and investigate with your Email Service Provider (ESP): DKIM & SPF.

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) is a type of digital signature to verify that the domain you are sending from is legitimate.

SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is a stamp of approval your ESP can send on your domain’s behalf.

Work with your ESP to confirm that your DKIM and SPF are set up correctly. Together, these are used to tell recipients that your emails are not spam.

While email deliverability isn’t an exact science, understanding how it works and adopting the steps above are extremely effective in getting more of your emails into the inboxes of people who help your organization drive impact and reach new heights.


About the Author

Hanna Reeves serves as a CRM Implementation Specialist at Generate_Impact. As a long time NPO tech professional, Hanna has extensive experience with a wide variety of systems, including EveryAction, Salesforce, HubSpot, Raiser’s Edge and more and works with benevolence-creating organizations to help them drive impact and mission.


5 Ways to Power Up Your Nonprofit Email Deliverability