Top 7 Mistakes Made By Nonprofit Email Campaigns

Alyssa Hansen August 20, 2014, by Alyssa Hansen

Everybody knows that email is essential for stakeholder communication. But nobody likes spammy or confusing emails. So what’s a nonprofit to do? Well, maybe it helps to know first what not to do with nonprofit email campaigns.

Mistake #1: Not having permission

If you aren’t sure that someone has given you permission to send them an email, then you don’t have permission. A huge list of emails is not guaranteed to produce results. It is much better to have a focused list of interested parties than thousands of random recipients. Also, if your organization is targeted as a spammer, you could even run into problems with the FTC.

Don’t be shy. Just ask if people want to receive updates. Consider placing a signup box on your webpage. You can put it in the upper right hand corner just below the banner. Also don’t forget to ask people to sign up at the end of blog posts.

Mistake #2: Poor subject lines

Don’t use exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!! DON’T USE ALL CAPS EITHER. Nobody like this, and your message will come across as unprofessional or even obnoxious. Think it through and brainstorm with others. As much thought should go into the subject line as the email content itself. Compare these two:

  • Gun Control Affects Every Community – Including Yours
  • Firearm License Laws Changing

Both might have similar information in the email, but the first subject line speaks to the concerns of the audience much more effectively.

Mistake #3: No call to action

Every single email you send should have one clear call to action (CTA). Think of things like:

  • Sign a petition
  • Ask for more information
  • Register for an event
  • Make a donation
  • Visit our site

Each CTA should be direct. Don’t be mysterious or vague. Go ahead and ask. They always have the freedom to make a choice.

Mistake #4: Not testing

Be sure to test how your email looks on different platforms before sending it out. Check Gmail, Yahoo!, MSN, and even the appearance on different devices. You might not look stellar on 100% of the platforms, but even small tweaks can make a big difference. You can also try hosting your newsletter on your website. That way your message is more likely to have a consistent appearance.

Mistake #5: Using a personal email sending address

If your organization does not have its own email address, then you should set this up before sending out emails. For example, emails like @gmail or @wordpress are not as professional as emails with organization name suffixes (like Greenpeace’s @greenpeace.org). The more professional you look, the more confidence your audience has in your nonprofit.

Mistake #6: Blasting people

The email “blast” term is overused and abused. Who wants to be blasted anyways? Your email should be a dialog that helps solve your audience’s personal problem or a problem they are deeply concerned about. Always write thinking of your recipient’s point of view.

Mistake #7: No follow up

Make sure you analyze your email campaign. How many emails did you send out? How many responses did you get? How many conversions? There are even automated systems, like MailChimp and VerticalResponse, that can do this for you. Use this info to build an even better follow-up campaign.

Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) goes even further by consolidating all databases into a single system. With CRM you can do things with email such as:

  • Improve audience targeting
  • Streamline emails
  • Track and optimize your campaign
  • Use cross channel campaign tools

Want To Know More?

Want help building an effective email campaign? Then give us a call at (800) 475-4590 or fill out our online form and select Email marketing. We’d be happy to get your started or help improve your existing online presence. Call Elevation today.

Alyssa Hansen

Alyssa Hansen

Alyssa Hansen is a Senior Account Manager at Elevation, a full-service nonprofit web design agency. With a background working in nonprofit communications, Alyssa's experience helps clients develop a new vision for their website. When she's not at her desk, she's passionate about microfinance, traveling, and learning new languages.

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