Emails we love: The nonprofit edition

McKenzie Gregory


Despite the staggering number of talented nonprofit marketers out there, charitable organizations have a bit of a bad rap in the email world. The reason? Many have fallen victim to an epidemic known around here as the "compile newsletter, blast audience, and repeat” virus. It's nasty stuff and pretty difficult to shake.

But we’re here to cure it once and for all by proving that nonprofits can (and do!) send beautiful, relevant email to help them form a more personal connection with their audience and compel more people to get involved with their amazing cause.

Here are some of the best nonprofit email examples to hit our inboxes in the past few months. Nonprofit marketers, let's utilize marketing’s most effective channel to truly make an impact... and say goodbye to so-so email forever. You in?



1. WWF

The #1 excuse we hear from nonprofits about their lackluster email programs? “We’re a small organization. We don’t have the (time, budget, manpower) to design the kind of emails you see from retailers!”

But here’s the thing: Your email doesn’t need to be full of fancy GIFs and advanced interactions to be effective. This send from WWF is as simple as can be: A brand logo, vibrant hero image, well laid-out text, and a bright CTA button. Even with just the most basic of elements, it does exactly what it's meant to do: inform their audience and make it easy for them to learn more. No excuses, y’all.




2. American Red Cross

A critical mistake we see all the time: Trying to shove everything you have to say into a single email. No one likes dealing with a wall of text in their inbox, especially when they’re opening on their phone, so you have to find ways to communicate your message with just the highlights.

People respond especially well to numbered lists because they’re easy to scan and digest (think about those super popular Buzzfeed "listicles") – so taking advantage of that format was a great move by The Red Cross.





Marketing is all about storytelling, and using compelling imagery is a great way to help people connect with your cause. We love the animal images PDSA incorporated into this mailing: By putting names (and sweet, adorable faces) to the animals they've helped, donors could see exactly how their hard-earned dollars were being put to use.





4. To Write Love On Her Arms

Another fantastic example of leading with images, this email from TWLOHA proves that visual elements speak much louder than words. Rather than packing a whole bunch of text into their mailing, most of it is comprised of images supplemented by only a tiny bit of copy. That way, their audience can immediately determine which posts interest them the most and click through to find out more on the organization's website. 




5. mencap

So many great things to say about this email:

A. Kit Harington
B. An incredible use of video  
C. Kit Harington

Ok, so not every brand can call upon the Commander of the Night’s Watch to create a special video just for their organization. But the principle is the same: Featuring any sort of celebrity supporter or identifiable figurehead is a great way to put a face to the humans behind (or supporting) your organization.




6. WWT

This example from Wildfowl & Wetland Trust showcases how nonprofits can play with timeliness and seasonality in their sends. It’s the perfect Valentine’s Day tie-in to their mission, and they pulled it off without the theme feeling too contrived. If you can connect your organization’s mission with other things going on in the world (a holiday, a special event, the weather... whatever), it’s a great way to diversify your messaging and keep things extra relevant.




7. Feeding America

What a gorgeous send from Feeding America! We love this template and the “photos” scattered throughout the design. The big ol' video in the center draws your eye to the most important part of their message, and the signature from Johanna Vetter gives the email the personal touch of a handwritten letter. This one gets every gold star – well done, guys!




8. charity: water

You're probably already aware of the marketing crush we have on one of our newest nonprofit clients, charity: water. But this email? Come on… you have to admit, it’s pretty stellar. The top-notch GIF in the header proves that nonprofits CAN keep up with B2C and retail brands – or in this case, do them one better. The sky really is the limit for organizations working to do some good in the world. 




Did you know we have a whole guide dedicated just to nonprofit marketers?

In "The Modern Marketer's Field Guide for Nonprofits," you’ll learn how to identify (and use) the right marketing tools to make forming a genuine, helpful connection with your volunteers and donors a whole lot easier. No GPS required.

Download it here



About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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