5 Email Strategies for Promoting Your Next Nonprofit Event

Gerard Tonti November 19, 2018, by Gerard Tonti

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Everyone loves a great event hosted by a noble organization. Nonprofit events are great opportunities for fundraising, stewardship, marketing, and building relationships.

There are all sorts of tips and tricks out there about how to use “trending” methods of promotion, like social media or mobile ads. But don’t forget to go back to the basics too!

One of the most effective methods of event promotion involves an effective email strategy.

Email has never gone out of style. It enables your organization to communicate directly with each individual supporter by sending messages right to their inbox.

Top strategies for promoting events through email include:

  • Starting with a great template.

  • Customizing your template for your audience.

  • Marketing registration opportunities.

  • Sending reminders to registrants.

  • Thanking your attendees.

No matter if your nonprofit is hosting an annual event or brainstorming a brand new fundraising event idea, make sure you have a great promotion strategy in place to obtain the best turnout possible.


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Before you start crafting any type of email to your supporters, be sure you write and save an effective email template.

Email templates are incredibly valuable for any communications you have with supporters, but especially for marketing purposes.

When you have a beautifully formatted email, it increases the likelihood that your supporter will read through the entire thing. In contrast, if the email looks messy or complicated, your donor may get an unprofessional impression of your organization.

Plus, when your marketing template is saved directly to your nonprofit marketing software, it’s easy to access, customize and send with minimal effort. With the event planning process also on your plate, it’s essential to find time-savers like this!

Make sure your email template takes care of the formatting of your email so that you only need to worry about customizing the content. For instance, make sure to:

  • Use an easy-to-read font. Sans serif fonts like Arial or Avenir tend to be easier to read on screens, which means they are very effective for emails. You want it to be quick and easy for your supporters to scan through the information you provide.

  • Brand your email with your organization’s colors. Your website and other promotional efforts are designed to make an impact on your supporters. Maintain this impact by correlating all of the marketing material with your brand.

  • Auto-populate the introduction. Instead of saving a generalized introduction to your email letter, use your nonprofit marketing software to its fullest extent and auto-populate your supporter’s name. This takes the preferred name of your donor directly from your CRM and uses it in the email so you can say “Dear John Doe” instead of “To whom it may concern.”

To read about the software in which you can save these all-important email templates, check out Salsa’s guide to nonprofit software.

 

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 Even when you have a great template for your email marketing strategy, your job is far from done. You still need to customize the template to fit your target audience. When you have built an extensive email list to choose from, it should be easy to find audiences galore!

The first step to this process is deciding who your target audience is. Remember, you may have more than one audience you’re trying to appeal to. Make a list of each of the audiences you want to attend your nonprofit event.

For instance, if you host a 5K race to raise money for the local animal shelter, you may try to appeal to both athletic young adults to run the race and families looking to adopt a pet.

The second step is to customize your email template so that you have a separate promotional message tailored for each audience. This creates a more personalized experience for your readers.

The last step is to use your nonprofit CRM software to find and input the necessary recipients for each email. Some CRM software even offers pre-defined groups, making it easier than ever to segment these supporter emails.

Send your finalized email, and watch the registrations soar!

 

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 When you design a promotional email for your nonprofit’s upcoming event, make sure you give your readers all of the necessary information.

This means, you’ll need to do more than tell them where and when the event is. If you have a registration form, connect your supporters directly to this from from their email.

You need to make sure it’s as easy as possible for supporters to get more information or move onto the next step of the event sign-up process.

For instance, you may connect your recipients to:

  • The Facebook event page. This invites your supporter to like the page and follow your updates about the event on their own time. It also invokes excitement for the event through your social media descriptions of the event’s activities.

  • The registration page for your event. If you require an official registration to attend your event, make it available online and easy for your supporters to access directly from your promotional messaging.

  • Promotions for the event. If you want to incentivize your supporters even further to sign up for your event, include a discount in your email to them. Then, invite them to purchase tickets or otherwise sign up to attend.

  • An RSVP form. Even if you’re not charging an entrance fee, make sure you keep track of who is going to attend your event by asking them to RSVP. Then include the email address, phone number, or other method of contact to which they can commit to attending.

If your nonprofit software features event registration software, make sure that the registration process and marketing process are integrated as completely as possible, and don’t forget to look for software solutions that do both!

 

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As the date of your event approaches, be sure to send out reminder emails to your supporters, whether they have already signed up to attend or not.

Draft two different email reminders for each category of supporter. For instance, in an email to someone who has not signed up to attend just yet, you might say, “Don’t miss your chance to sign up for X event!” Meanwhile, for an email to someone who has signed up, you might draft, “Remember to bring your picnic baskets to X event on Y day!”

When you send the reminder emails, be sure to keep an eye on the key email statistics for each. These statistics will give you a good idea of who is opening your reminder emails, how often people click through to see more about the event, etc.

If your emails are getting high open and click-through rates, you can probably assume your reminders are an effective marketing method. However, if these metrics are not where you want them to be, you may need to broaden your horizons to include other marketing techniques.

These other methods of marketing to remind your supporters about the event may include strategies such as:

  • Peer-to-peer fundraising. This type of fundraising encourages your supporters to create fundraising pages for your campaign and raise money on your behalf. This strategy makes your supporters feel more connected to the event and the cause as a whole; creating this tie acts as an effective reminder. For more information about which platform is best for you, check out Recharity’s top peer-to-peer fundraising platforms.

  • Social media marketing. If you have a Facebook event set up for your event, make sure you post in the event over time so that you send updates and notifications to those who follow the event. This is a great way to remind your younger attendees about the event and the amazing activities you’ll host.

  • Direct mail marketing. While online communications are great, direct “snail mail” is always a classic way to remind people of your event. Create a template for your letters through your nonprofit software and auto-populate the supporters’ information into each letter before printing everything.

Try combining your email marketing with these other marketing techniques. Connect people to your social media pages through email social media buttons. Or try promoting the potential for fundraising involvement in peer-to-peer fundraising through your email newsletter.

Event promotion is always more effective if you connect different channels of marketing with one another so that your supporters can get as much information as they need quickly and easily from multiple locations.

 

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After your event is over, your job still isn’t done! You need to make sure to thank your supporters for attending and for any contributions they made whilst at your event.

Sending a quick “thank you” email to each supporter is an easy and manageable way to show them that you appreciate their support.

When you thank your attendees, you’re not only showing them that you appreciate their attendance, but you’re also encouraging them to attend your next event.

You may choose to sign off of your “thank you” email with something like, “We hope to see you at our next event soon!”


Now that we’ve covered email marketing for events, be sure to get out there and start recruiting attendees. Your events are wonderful occasions that should be enjoyed by all, so make sure your marketing strategies reflect this idea. Now get started!

How to Build Your Nonprofit Email List: Website & Social Media

Gerard Tonti

Gerard Tonti

Gerard Tonti is the Senior Creative Developer at Salsa Labs, the premier fundraising software company for growth-focused nonprofits. Gerard's marketing focus on content creation, conversion optimization and modern marketing technology helps him coach nonprofit development teams on digital fundraising best practices.

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