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How to Use Email Campaigns to Collect Donations

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Written By: author image Natalie Jones

Do you want to collect donations for your nonprofit site using email campaigns?

As a nonprofit organization, your email list is one of your most valuable resources. It’s a direct line of communication between you and your donors.

Email marketing is a key way to drive more traffic to your site, and ultimately collect more donations. By continually connecting with your audience through emails, you can nurture relationships, convert your subscribers into donors, and encourage existing donors to give more.

In this article, we’ll provide five easy ways you can gain more donations from your email list. You’ll need to use them to create a long-term email marketing strategy that maximizes donations.

Step 1: Segment Your Subscribers

Your first step is to segment your subscribers into the appropriate groups so you can send them email content that meets their unique needs.

Most people want to receive content that is relevant to them, so it’s important to show them what they care about, and avoid showing them things they don’t care about.

For example, it makes sense to create two main segments:

  1. People who have never donated before. These people need to be enticed to take the first step. You might only ask for small donations at first.
  2. People who have donated in the past. These people need to be convinced to donate again. You might push them to make larger donations or sign up for recurring donations.

It’s also smart to segment subscribers based on how much they have donated in the past. This will help you tailor email content specific to their ability or willingness to give.

For instance, it doesn’t make sense to invite a donor to your $1,000/plate event if they have only donated $25 in the past. That person probably can’t afford your event. At best, they would simply ignore such a big request. However, your invitation might make these donors feel uncomfortable about supporting your cause and unsubscribe from your email list altogether.

In contrast, asking for too little from donors who are accustomed to giving a lot will just reduce the total you could have collected.

There are countless ways to segment your followers. It all depends on your needs. If you ask for on-site volunteers, you’ll want a segment for people who reside in the area, or for people who have contributed their time in the past so you can ask them again. You might also want to create a segment for high-value donors or donors with a close connection to your cause.

Step 2: Build Email Automations

Automations are sequences of emails that send automatically based on pre-designed triggers.

The purpose of automated emails is to send subscribers specific content as they meet certain conditions.

The most common automation is the Welcome Series. This series is typically three to seven emails that introduce your new subscribers to your nonprofit, deliver important information, and show them how to take action. Welcome series emails can receive up to double the average open rate of your other emails.

You can also create automations for the triggers you choose. For example, you might create automations that send email content when…

  • A subscriber makes their first donation.
  • A subscriber downloads a PDF ebook about your cause, which signals higher engagement with your cause.
  • A subscriber has been subscribed for a year.
  • A subscriber attends one of your events.

How do you send automated emails? You’ll need an email marketing tool. We recommend ActiveCampaign, a powerful email marketing and marketing automations solution used by over 185,000 businesses, because it comes with pre-built automated campaigns and email templates.

It also offers segmentation features, including tags, and custom fields as well as event tracking tools that allow you to get deeper insights into your campaigns.

Drip is also another great option. It provides email segmentation features, email templates, and automation functionality.

Automatically Adding New Donors to Your Mailing List

To take the work out of manually adding new donors to your mailing list, you should set up an automation to ensure they are added once they’ve completed their donation.

If you’re already using WP Simple Pay, the #1 Stripe payments plugin for WordPress, to accept donations on your WordPress site, you can automatically add new donors to your ActiveCampaign mailing list or your Drip mailing list once you’ve accepted their donation.

This is made possible with WP Simple Pay’s built-in integration with Uncanny Automator, the best no-code WordPress automation plugin.

To learn more, see our step-by-step guides:

Step 3: Tell Compelling Stories

Your email subscribers want more than a request for money every week. They want compelling messages that resonate with them emotionally. Your job is to communicate the importance of your mission and drive them to action in a way that lets them connect with your cause.

Establish a schedule of regular email campaigns. It’s important to connect with your subscribers regularly so they don’t forget about your brand. You should send one email each month at a minimum, but many nonprofits send weekly newsletters. Be careful not to send too often, or you might frustrate your subscribers.

The stories nonprofits tell usually fall into three groups:

  • Stories about those who receive help. Showcase the people who benefit from your nonprofit’s work, especially if you can show improvement.
  • Stories about donors and volunteers. Your donors want to be recognized for their contributions, too. Showcase the people who contribute their time, effort, and money.
  • Stories about events or initiatives. What did you accomplish? How did your efforts change the world? Donors want to see that their money helps you achieve something, so don’t be afraid to brag about what you’ve done.

You can’t collect donations in an email, so you’ll need to link your subscribers to a landing page with a payment form. This page is a critical part of the donation experience.

Your donation landing page is where you should lay out your case for a donation. Like your emails, this page should have a strong, compelling headline, organized body copy (lists and subheadings help), and enticing imagery.

Most importantly, this is where you’ll present your donation payment form. Make the form stand out from the page so your readers can’t miss it. Suggest donation amounts, but you should also let them input their own custom amount.

Using WP Simple Pay, you can easily create donation forms with customized form fields that allow your donors to choose the amount they’d like to give. The plugin also offers pre-built donation form templates that already have suggested donation amounts set up for you.

For best results, your donation landing page should match the copy and imagery that appears in each email. Creating a unique landing page for each email campaign is a good idea, but this doesn’t mean you have to redesign each one. Use a template and swap out the individual elements.

WP Simple Pay lets you create branded, distraction free landing pages for your donation forms directly from the donation form builder. See our step-by-step guide on how to create a Stripe payments landing page in WordPress.

Step 5: Monitor Your Performance

There’s a good chance the first emails you create won’t collect donations. It takes time and effort to optimize your email campaigns so they collect maximum donations. S

With all of that being said, it’s important to track the performance of each campaign to find ways to improve your email marketing.

What should you track?

  • Open rate. This is the percentage of people who open an email. They can’t read the email content without opening the email, so this is one of the most important metrics. Other than your “from” name, the only variable that affects this metric is your subject line. The average open rate for nonprofit emails hovers around 28%.
  • Click through rate. This is the percentage of people who click on a particular link in your email’s body. More clicks means more engagement with your content and organization.
  • Conversions. This is the number of people who click a link in your email and make a donation. This is the ultimate indicator of your email’s success. You can track people who follow the links to your donation landing page and make a donation using your email marketing tool (ActiveCampaign, Drip, etc.).

A/B testing is a key way to measure the effectiveness of your emails. With A/B testing, you create two versions of the same email. The versions should be identical except for one element. Whichever version performs better is the winner.

For example, you can send an email with subject line A to half your list and the same email with subject line B to the other half. If subject line A receives more opens, it means your subscribers prefer it. In this case, you would analyze subject line A to learn why it was more effective, and then apply that learning to future emails.

Remember, your email list is a powerful source of donations, but only if you nurture it over time. If you allow your list to grow stagnant, it will never collect as much as you need it to. Don’t wait until you need the money. Collect email addresses wherever you can and continually serve content that converts subscribers into donors.

There you have it! We hope this article has helped you learn how to use email campaigns to collect more donations.

If you liked this article, you might also want to check out our guide on how to create the perfect online donation experience in 2023.

What are you waiting for? Get started with WP Simple Pay today!

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