→ Click here to view this video tutorial.

For a nonprofit, email marketing is an ideal way to initiate and nurture relationships with donors. Not only is email cost effective, but it can reach a large number of recipients in a timely and relevant manner.

Email marketing is especially useful for promoting charity fundraisers. A promotional email campaign can be used to generate excitement, drive ticket sales, highlight big-ticket auction items and remind your supporters about the impact they can make by attending your event.

Here are some more reasons to consider email marketing for your next charity fundraising event.

Email is awesome because it’s…

  1. Cost-effective. Although direct mail will likely always have its place in event fundraising, email allows you to communicate with a much bigger mailing list of supporters for a relatively lower cost – because there is no printing and postage!
  2. Gets fast responses – Email is results driven. Rather than wait for a snail-mail response, 80% of recipients send a response within 48 hours of receiving the initial email.
  3. Instantaneous – Nonprofits often need a quick turnaround on fundraising events and have only a short time to send out important information. Email allows you to take care of issues in a timely fashion.
  4. Measureable – An email service provider gives you the tools to track open rates and click-through rates on emails and links. With this valuable information, you can determine the effectiveness of your campaign and better understand the interests of your recipients. In short, you can be sure you’re delivering content they want to see.
  5. Personal – With email, you can easily segment your contact list and send targeted communication based on preferences, interests and history with your organization.

Ahem What was that?

Open rate This is a measure of how many people on an email list open (or view) a particular email campaign. According to MailChimp, the general public opens email from a Nonprofit 26% of the time. So if you send out an email to 1,000 supporters, you can expect roughly 260 will open and actually read your email.

Clickthrough rate (CTR) This is the number of recipients who take action and actually click on a link within the email. A good number to try to beat 3% CTR. So out of those 1,000 supporters, about 30 will actually do what you’re asking them to.

Creating a Promotional Email

The following video tutorial was created to demonstrate a few best practices for designing an effective email campaign for a charity fundraiser. The email used as an example in the tutorial is designed to promote a special fundraising event, sell tickets and feature a few big ticket items from the charity auction – in this case, unique no-risk travel packages.

→ Click here to view an example of the email template we create in this tutorial.

This particular email is built using a predesigned template in Constant Contact, which is a common email service provider that many Nonprofits use to create their email newsletters. You can view a screenshot preview of the email template below in this post. 

Did you like this video tutorial? Do you have questions? If you would like to see another video tutorial demonstrating these email best practices on a different platform, such as MailChimp, iContact, myEmma, Campaign Monitor or any others, or if you were thoroughly confused by this tutorial, please let me know by leaving a comment below!

The concepts and ideas that are demonstrated in this tutorial can be applied to many of the various email marketing services out there such as MailChimp, Blackbaud, iContact or others. They all use a variation of what’s called a “What You See Is What You Get” editor, or WYSIWYG editor (pronounced “wizz-e-wig”). These content editors are used to modify text, add and change images and edit templates to create a professional looking campaign.

Using an Email Marketing Service (EMS)

Create a Promotional Email Campaign in Constant Contact

Click to enlarge. This is the email template we create in the video tutorial.

An Email Marketing Service is a company that provides on online service that makes it easy to create, send and track bulk email campaigns. For nonprofits, an EMS is a crucial part of promoting fundraising events. The most common

Wondering why you can’t just use a standard Internet Service Provider (ISP) like Outlook or Gmail? Sending bulk or mass email through standard email – where you ‘BCC’ everyone in your address book – can be clumsy, time consuming and look unprofessional. Furthermore, some ISPs may prohibit bulk emails altogether. Promoting a charity fundraiser requires a higher level of organization, professional execution and a streamlined distribution that makes email marketing services well worth your time and investment.

Every EMS is different 

There are countless EMSs available and each is different. You must find the best solution for your nonprofit’s needs. Each EMS should guide you to comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s CAN SPAM Act regulations, but the benefits and features go well beyond that.

Some beneficial features to look for when researching EMSs include:

  • Predesigned templates
  • Private IP address
  • Automatic list management (i.e. for people who unsubscribe or opt out)
  • Quality reporting (i.e. open rates and click rates)
  • List segmenting by demographic or other criteria
  • A/B testing for optimization

Finding the right EMS

It can be overwhelming to try to find the best email marketing service for your charity fundraiser. To more quickly learn which solution you like best, take advantage of free trials that many of the services offer (the tutorial I created above was done using a free trial version of Constant Contact).

Two free/cheap and easy-to-use options that many Nonprofits use for promoting their events are Constant Contact and Mailchimp, but there are many more email marketing services out there.

Here is a list of the top email marketing services, but this doesn’t include many of the other auction and fundraising software platforms that have email marketing built in, such as Blackbaud, GreaterGiving and others.

When you ultimately find a email service you like, make sure they offer a pricing structure that fits your needs and a no-term contract.

Get the most out of your email campaign! Click here to download the free eBook, “Beginner’s Guide to Email Event Promotion,” with bonus content calendar to help plan and organize efforts.