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4 things you should know about successful charity emails

Marketing for a charity can be tough. Why? First, marketing budgets are generally not as big as their for-profit counterparts, yet charities compete for the same share- of-mind and of-wallet. Second, the ‘product sold’ by charities is less tangible than, say, a new phone or flying to Las Vegas. It’s about the feeling you get from helping others.

So how do you reach your customers as a charity? And then, what message or content should you send?

Since email is considered the number one channel for ROI, it’s worth for charities to invest in it. But that just solves the first problem. Here are 4 things you should consider when crafting your message or your content to keep subscribers engaged:

1. Start at the top

The first piece of the charity emails puzzle you need to get right is the subject line as this is the short version of your message. Your subscribers will often decide whether they will open your emails based on the subject line.

Blue Cross Email

Which charity is it?

Have a subject line strategy in place. Look at the emails you’ve sent over the last 3, 6 or 12 months. They should all send a clear and consistent brand message. Do your emails reflect that you have a wealth of information and help that is available, and make you the ‘go to’ organisation?
Can you guess the charity by looking at the subject lines?

  1. 25th March: Join us and Paws for Tea – May 9
  2. 8th May: Dog Carly finds love after 280 lonely days
  3. 5th June: Britain is on the brink of a kitten crisis

It’s Blue Cross, a large animal charity.

2. Beware of words that don’t help

As charities benefit from the goodwill of others, they find themselves either asking for something (e.g. volunteers, fundraisers or donations) or sending information to donors on how their resources have benefited the receivers. While everyone will be interested to know how their help was received, asking for resources can be trickier in charity emails.

A quick search through our subject line checker and you’ll notice that ‘donate’ gets a whopping 29.2% lower open rate than average within the charity sector, and nearly an 80% lower click rate. Meanwhile ‘help’ gets an uplift of 16.6% in open rate and 24.2% click rate.

So make sure you test the wording of your subject line, and you apply a longer term strategy in your charity emails, based on what works for you.


Subject Line Checker

3. Welcome and nurture your new subscribers

What better time to contact your subscribers than the moment when they have just agreed to receive your news? Take advantage of triggering a welcome email as it is a great way to confirm someone’s subscription and start establishing a presence in their mind. Things to include in your welcome to the charity emails:

  • Use it to set expectations on the kind of information your subscribers will receive
  • Link them to more content on your site
  • Offer other opportunities to connect, such as social media sites
  • Show videos displaying past projects to engage through motion

4. Make your job easier and your subscribers’ experience better

VSO emailComing up with engaging content can be difficult. But it needn’t be so, as marketing automation can help. For example, VSO have created impressive conditional content which involved an individually personalized video for each new donor.

But it doesn’t even need to be this complex to make a difference to the impact of your charity emails. You could simply pull the amount someone raised into a thank you email or some details of the fundraiser they attended. The reason most fundraisers take part is because they have a personal connection to your charity. So why not make their emails feel more personal?

Key takeaways about charity emails:

  • Start with a subject line strategy
  • Check previous results on words in your subject line
  • Build a relation with your subscribers right from the start
  • Use marketing automation to make emails more personal

If you’d like to know more about how to apply the tips in this post, just contact your account manager.

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