How an inspiring nonprofit funds hope with email marketing

McKenzie Gregory


Despite their recognition as a powerful movement for hope, healing, and redemption, To Write Love on Her Arms was never meant to become the nonprofit organization they are today.

“To Write Love on Her Arms is the name of a story our founder wrote to help a friend,” said Ty Johnson, Social Media and Communications Manager at TWLOHA. "He put it on a t-shirt, then he sold them at a concert to help her pay for treatment. In a way, that’s what it’s continued to be since then: selling t-shirts to help struggling people afford help and treatment for mental illness.


A nonprofit that operates like a retailer

“First and foremost, our purpose is to encourage, inform, inspire, and invest into treatment and recovery,” Ty said. "We do outreach at music festivals and speaking events, and we sell merchandise at those events and online so we can invest in treatment and recovery programs for people who wouldn’t have access to them otherwise.”

Like many nonprofits today, merchandise sales sit at the very center of their operations.

“The majority of our funding comes from online and event sales,” Ty said. Because of that, their team works hard to put new merchandise in front of prospective buyers and continually generate online revenue.


Email marketing as a key revenue driver

“We occasionally send emails to our community to update them about big news or inform them of events we’re attending, but a good portion of what we send is sales-driven,” Ty said.



Whenever they have a sale or launch a new line of merchandise, Ty will send a series of emails to their audience to support those efforts. Since the primary goal of their email marketing is to generate sales, they’ve connected their Shopify store with their Emma account so they can gather the most actionable analytics possible from every campaign.  


A match made in (marketing) heaven

"When we do sales emails,” Ty said, “our entire email strategy revolves around the analytics we get from the Emma + Shopify integration. Opens and clicks are great, but knowing which emails produce the most revenue helps us make smarter design and content choices that ultimately increase our funding.“

What kind of design and content choices, exactly?

“After I send an email, I go back and ask myself, ‘What images are our recipients clicking on? How much money are they spending? Are they buying the item that’s featured in the email?’ Using those insights, I can figure out what’s working compared to other sends and communicate that with our sales and design departments."


Taking it to the next level with automation

This year, Ty is hoping to get more proactive with their email strategy. He just set up a brand new automated welcome email, and he looks forward to getting even smarter with their overall strategy.

"We’re trying to get more into automation, particularly automating around shopping cart abandonment,” he said. We can’t wait to see their impressive work in action!



Want to learn more about To Write Love on Her Arms? Visit their website – and sign up for their email list – 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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