Adults spend on average 28 percent of their time reading and answering the 204 million emails that are sent each year. In marketing your nonprofit, you have a lot of competition in the inbox. However, since the average return on investment is $40.56 for every $1.00 spent on email marketing, putting effort into email marketing will be beneficial for your nonprofit.

Hawkins Ash CPAs understands the value of email marketing and invests in regularly providing content to help you run a successful nonprofit organization. Constant Contact recently recognized the marketing team at Hawkins Ash CPAs as a 2016 All Star Award winner. The annual award recognizes the most successful 10 percent of the Constant Contact customer base, based on significant achievements using email marketing to engage their customers and drive results for their organization during the prior year.

To give your nonprofit the competitive advantage in the inbox, implement these best practices when developing an email marketing campaign.

Set Your Goal
Depending on your organization, your goal can take many forms. Email marketing is helpful in generating donations, retaining donors and informing your audience about your cause. Your goal will drive the decisions you make on what content to include in emails and how often to send them.

Success indicators of your email activity include email open rate and link click rate. According to MailChimp, on average, nonprofits achieve a 24.98% open rate of their emails and a 2.76% click rate on links in those emails.

Know and Grow Your Audience
Breaking apart your contact list into categories of contacts with similar interests or characteristics is called segmentation. This will help you send the right emails to the right people-the individuals who will open the email and click your links. If your current contact list is unsegmented, look through the database to see if you can segment based on demographic information, industry or other characteristics important to your organization. Another way to segment your list is to set up separate mailing lists within your email program like Constant Contact. Base the lists on topics for which you intend to send emails. Send a general email inviting all your contacts to select topics of interest.

In order to grow your contact list, you should have the option to sign up for your emails at many points of interaction with your target audience. Have a sign-up form on your website. While they can sometimes be a nuisance, sign-up forms that popup on your website have proven to increase email registration by 400 percent. Offer the option to sign up when people are registering to attend events and on your organization’s social media pages.

Within your email program, set up an automatic welcome email that will be sent once someone signs up. This process will help you confirm the email addresses and contact information are correct and provides you a chance to reaffirm the content you’ll be providing in your emails and the frequency with which you’ll be sending them.

Your contact list will organically grow if you stay true to your email marketing goal and adjust your tactics and content based on the success indicators described above. You may be tempted to purchase a list. If you do this, you run the risk of being labeled a spammer and in extreme cases, at the behest of the email program, may be required to shut down your email marketing completely or surrender your email list. Only send emails to those who opt-in.

Email message
All the elements of the email message should promote the goal of your email marketing campaign and be designed to elicit engagement-get the click!

  • Subject Line: The subject should consist of no more than 50 characters and should create urgency. Tell the recipient why the email should be read now.
  • Preheader: The preheader should consist of no more than 75 characters, support the subject line and present a call to action.
  • Body: It’s important to note that emails are not generally read from top to bottom. Rather, they are scanned. Because of this, you should always keep your emails short and concise, using bullets and lists. Use photos as enhancements and not as the principal way to deliver the message. This is because images will not automatically appear in the inbox-they need to be downloaded. The email content should consist of 80 percent informative material and 20 percent selling material.
  • Call to Action: Don’t hyperlink “Click Here” text. Rather use CSS code buttons that fit your brand and describe what the recipient is clicking to receive. Your email program should have these built in, and, if you’re unsure, contact your Webmaster. Place your button near the top of the email.

Keep Mobile in Mind
It’s no surprise that the majority of emails are read via mobile device. Optimize your emails for mobile as much as possible. Use mobile responsive email templates and don’t use sidebars.

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Corenne Gutierrez

I joined Hawkins Ash CPAs in 2011. As the Firm’s marketing manager, I develop and deploy strategic marketing and communications plans to fulfill the marketing goals of the Firm as a whole, each office and business line.


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T: 800.658.9077
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