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3/31/22 11:37 AM 7 min read

Charities: How to develop your email marketing strategy in 5 steps?

Every year, we see a decline in organic (non-paid) reach on social networks and advertising costs that are skyrocketing. This makes email marketing one of the most powerful tools you must maintain for a lasting relationship with your donors. It allows you to keep them informed about the progress of your fundraising campaigns, the latest news and events related to your cause. It is also an excellent communication channel to promote your fundraising efforts, solicit donations and engage potential allies to your social mission, at the right time, using a personalized approach.

As a philanthropic manager, you also want to increase your donor base. An email marketing strategy becomes an undeniable tool to target communication actions and generate a financial return for your organization.

Here are 5 crucial steps to respect in order to develop an efficient and effective email marketing strategy.


Step 1: Segment your database
Step 2: Define the easiest segment to engage
Step 3: Determine the best time to send
Step 4: Maximize the return on your communication campaign
Step 5: Develop your philanthropic storytelling to engage your donors



Step 1

Segment your database

Segmenting your database allows you to create different groups (or segments) of donors based on common criteria. These are supported by the typical profile of your philanthropic personas, such as their socio-demographic characteristics (age, gender, job type, hierarchical level) and by their purchasing characteristics (donation cycle, commitment, frequency, satisfaction, etc.).

According to a DMA study, 77% of the ROI of an email campaign comes from the quality of the segmentation performed. This step is therefore crucial to develop targeted communication campaigns and offer relevant content to your email recipients. To achieve this, you will need to gather as much information as possible on your donors and subscribers in order to enrich your database. You will then have a better understanding of your donors, their specific interests and needs, which will allow you to adopt the right tone and marketing approach to maximize their conversion, based on their position in your donation journey tunnel. Subscribers to your email communications will feel more involved and interested in the information you are communicating and will be more likely to read and click on your calls-to-action.

Segment your database


Step 2

Define the easiest segment to engage

Not all donors in your database are active and in regular contact with your organization. Some are one-time donors, while others will be annual or monthly recurring donors.

To maximize the results of your email marketing strategy, we recommend reaching out to the contacts that are easiest to engage and most likely to bring concrete results. In the vast majority of cases, these are people you interact with frequently, either at philanthropic events or fundraising activities, etc. They will be more open and ready to receive your communications and move on to the next step, unlike a donor who is not very active or less solicited. The latter will need to receive a series of thoughtful communications in order to re-engage him or her and count him or her among your active donors. Remember to adapt the frequency of your communications to each of your subscriber segments.

With a well-thought-out strategy and a personalized approach to your different audiences, 20% of your marketing efforts could yield 80% of the results!


Step 3

Determine the best time to send

Have you ever asked yourself the following questions:
  • When is the best time to send my email?
  • What is the best performing day of the week?
  • What is the right sending frequency?

To maximize the impact of your emails, your messages must obviously be sent at the best time according to your target persona's behavior. Does he prefer to consult the information in the office in the morning, or at home in the evening? By using an email marketing management software, you will have access to a dashboard and follow-up allowing you to take the pulse of your actions and analyze the best time to send your messages to each of your contacts.

If you don't have access to a specific software, you should know that it is possible to analyze certain performance indicators, such as the opening rate of your emails, the click rate, the unsubscribe rate, etc. The analysis of these indicators is too often left aside. However, they are the lever for improvement of any good email marketing strategy. Do a regular follow-up and don't hesitate to do A/B tests to determine what works better and what doesn't!


Step 4

Maximize the return on your communication campaign

Many organizations that use email marketing are missing key tactics to maximize the reach of their efforts. Could it be that your contact was busy when he or she viewed your email, and the email was forgotten? This is what happens most of the time!

Reminder emails allow you to re-engage your audiences at times that may be more convenient for them. A simple "Did you miss our last newsletter?" could go a long way. These are tactics that deepen and solidify the relationship with your donors by tailoring the format and timing of your communications to them. When well thought out and written, they can have a significant impact on the frequency of your audience engagement, your web traffic, your reputation, your competitive positioning, and even the amount of donations raised.

You can also use automation to simplify your task, with well-defined sequences that will move your potential supporters towards their key giving moment.


Step 5

Develop your philanthropic storytelling to engage your donors

To get your target donors into your giving journey, you obviously need to present them with high-quality content. Indeed, to appeal to them, you must establish a relationship with them. That's where storytelling comes in!

Whether fictional or real, the story you tell helps illustrate social problems, formulate concrete solutions and engage a community around your social mission. Donors like authentic stories that touch them personally. The choice of words and tone of your messages will have a huge impact on your recipients' engagement. Will your tone be neutral, dramatic or inspirational? Will it use humor or human empathy?


To get your donors to take action quickly, consider writing clear text where they can understand your message in less than a minute. The visual quality of your emails is equally important. Accompany your storytelling with beautiful and meaningful visuals that will titillate the emotion and with well highlighted calls to action.

As you can see, storytelling in email marketing motivates the audience and builds trust. By using compelling stories, your subscribers will anticipate your emails. This will result in increased open rates, click-through rates and conversion rates!


That's it! By segmenting your subscribers into different lists, you can determine which ones are more likely to convert or convert back into donors.

If you don't have the time to create all this yourself, don't hesitate to call on our philanthropic marketing experts. We will be happy to assist you with strategies and solutions to meet your needs.


Make an appointment with a philanthropic marketing expert!