Status Update: E-mail Marketing for Nonprofits

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As a college student, blogger, campus leader, employee and intern, I juggle an astonishing amount of e-mail accounts on a daily basis. Six, to be exact. And that means a whole lot of e-mails come my way in a 24-hour period, half of which I actually read thoroughly and a quarter of which I respond to as soon as possible. You could say I’m pretty skilled at e-mail by now.

Surprisingly, e-mail is one of the places that nonprofits struggle with the most. In a field where multiple hats is the name of the game, one might think that the aforementioned is a common occurrence, but a lack of cohesion often taints the e-mail marketing of nonprofits. In 2014, Blackbaud reported that 36% of nonprofit organizations sent e-mails with conflicting messages. This might seem like a major faux pas, but when you’re working with 47,794 (on average) e-mails in your inbox, perhaps it’s easier to envision how last week’s update got left out of a marketing e-mail. Add that to the fact that 90% of nonprofits use e-mail marketing on at least a yearly basis, with a third of organizations utilizing only digital mediums for marketing, and things start to make sense.

So what’s the answer? Strategy.

Nonprofits are capitalizing on digital and social media to get the word out, but only 26% have found this to be effective. It may be coincidence, but only 25% have an actual content strategy, which means the rest are leaving their online marketing up to fate. Or the intern they recently hired. While younger generations are generally going to have an upper hand in all things tech, the same strategy rules from before apply: make a plan and stick to it.

With nonprofits switching increasingly to online-only operations, it might be important for their marketing teams to update more than the occasional status.


Emily is a college intern with WeevU’s social media department.


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