10 Nonprofits Email Tips from MailChimp Research

Emails are the most effective form of converting individuals to donors in peer-to-peer fundraising today. Over and over, strategists, experts, and organizations come to the same conclusion. But are you sending email communications as effective as you could be? Are you missing out on vital conversions? Most likely. Frankly MANY organizations, including us, can be better at email marketing.

We love MailChimp for a variety of reasons. On top of a sleek, user-friendly interface they provide an amazing amount of insight from their data they collect. Their research presents findings that make their tools more valuable and, in turn, their customers better at email marketing. We’ve done the heavy lifting to pull out data for the nonprofits and distill the findings for you. Below we present 10 key tips for rocking your fundraising appeals!

Before we get the tips here are a few stats specific to the Nonprofit industry:

Out of 46 industry categories Nonprofit is:

  • 9th highest in open rates.
  • 18th highest in click through rates.
  • 10th LOWEST in soft bounces

Without theorizing too much, what do these numbers say about nonprofits? Nonprofit email practitioners are performing fairly well as compared to other industries. Put into context: think about the amount of subscribers and emails sent in the eCommerce or Social Network industries. There is always room for improvement but nonprofits are doing pretty good. 

Now The Tips!


1.    25.12% Open Rate, 3.25% Click-through-Rate (CTR), 0.19% Unsubscribe

All of these are strictly for benchmarking purposes. Do not agonize. Every cause/organization is unique, but they are good food for thought.

2.    Engagement and Frequency are negatively correlated

Pay attention to this point. More emails does not equal more engagement or more donations. Be cognizant of donor fatigue.

3.    Keep your subject line to 50 characters or less

KISS (Keep is Short and Simple) is the perfect methodology to follow when creating appeal headlines. One note: if you are sending HIGHLY TARGETED emails then you can be better served with longer subject lines.

4.    Open Rates fall with reused subject lines

In connection with excessive frequency, the reuse of subject lines proves to be an annoyance to users and inboxes. Always ask yourself before sending: Would I open this email?

5.    Mobile First!!!

Self explanatory. Remember: 40.8% of all emails are opened on a mobile device. So make sure that actions called out in your email can be fulfilled via a mobile device. Keep their engagement then and there.

6.    More links lead to more clicks

Do not fear adding another link. One at the top and one at the bottom doesn’t hurt and data shows that it statistically improves clicks.

7.    TWTh. 8:30am-3:30pm.

All of this information is well and good, but when should you send an email? Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between 8:30am-3:30pm are the optimal windows. Avoid the weekends at all costs unless it’s an absolute necessity i.e emergency update regarding your event.

8.    A/B Testing is your truest consultant

Industry data is nice, but A/B testing will provide the most accurate outcome how to be more effective. Mailchimp A/B tools allow you to test various parameters (subject line, delivery time, etc.) and sample sizes to produce the most effective outcomes.  

9.    Clean your data

Perform an audit every few months to ensure you have the most up-to-date information. Platforms will automatically remove “Unsubs” from your database, but don’t let the technology run unfettered. Periodical checks can keep your data healthy and accurate.

10. Integrate with Google Analytics and social media for actionable analysis

While more data can be overwhelming, failing to track your campaigns on Google Analytics and social media can be detrimental to your success. Take advantage of tools provided to enhance performance.


Images from Mailchimp.




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