Use email to turn one-Time donors into recurring constituents

Nonprofits hold an extremely special place in the hearts of millions, and while many people make it a point to donate when they can, some even on a regular basis, there are many that fall under the “one-time” donors list. Many nonprofits may struggle with turning those one-timers into recurring constituents because there is a very fine line they must walk. 

Consumers know that nonprofits rely on consistent donations to stay up and running while also working on their mission. However, just like any marketing effort, simply spamming your email list for money isn’t going to do you any good, and could, in fact, land you on an email blacklist.

So how can a nonprofit use email to turn one-time donors into recurring constituents? We’ve got some ideas for you. 

When it comes to email for nonprofits, you must be strategic in how you approach asking for donations, proving that your donor’s money is going to a good cause and making sure you aren’t coming off as spammy. 

The element of storytelling

Storytelling is super prevalent in email marketing as a whole, but when it comes to email for nonprofits, it’s absolutely vital. Why? Because it tugs at your reader’s emotions to inspire them to act. Storytelling can happen in two ways when it comes to nonprofits:

1. Tell your nonprofit’s story.

Telling the story of your nonprofit is a great way to help convince one-time donors to donate again. Those who receive your nonprofit’s emails want to know how you are helping, how you are using their money to really make a difference. So highlighting information on your mission’s progress is a great storytelling method to encourage more donations. 

Telling the story of your nonprofit is a great way to help convince one-time donors to donate again.

Source: Really Good Emails

2. Tell the story of who your nonprofit is affecting.

One of the most effective forms of storytelling for nonprofits is sharing the story of those they’ve helped during their journey. Doing so gives readers a real sense of humanity and personalization because this is more than words on paper or in an email. Instead, this is someone’s true life story, which pulls at the reader’s emotions on such a deep level, which is often the reason behind repeat donations. 

One of the most effective forms of storytelling for nonprofits is sharing the story of those they’ve helped during their journey.

Source: Really Good Emails

Show readers how their donations are making an impact

Being upfront and transparent with your readers is absolutely vital when it comes to encouraging one-time donors into becoming recurring constituents. As mentioned previously, readers want to know that their money is going to a worthy cause and not just in the pocket of those behind the brand. 

This example by Charity Water is excellent because it not only offers the reader’s a quick glance at what they’ve done but offers more details in the call to action (CTA).

This example by Charity Water is excellent because it not only offers the reader’s a quick glance at what they’ve done but offers more details in the call to action (CTA).

Source: Charity Water

Once users click on the CTA, they are taking to a website landing page that gives them even more details on who they are as a nonprofit, what they offer and where the money is going. 

Once users click on the CTA, they are taking to a website landing page that gives them even more details on who they are as a nonprofit, what they offer and where the money is going.

Source: Charity Water

Incentives can go a long way with nonprofit email campaigns

Incentives can include just about anything you can give away during a nonprofit fundraising event as a price to those who participate and those who contribute with a donation. Incentives can be great for fundraising events, but can they be used in nonprofit email marketing campaigns?

Sure! Thanks to online sources such as rafflecopter, running online raffles are made simple. Users simply have to verify their mode of entry, and they’re automatically entered to win whatever prize you are offering. So, say you are running a donation campaign with a prize to those who donated, they would have to verify they’ve donated with a confirmation code, link, or maybe merely submitting their email, and the event coordinator runs the software, and a name is chosen!

Sure! Thanks to online sources such as rafflecopter, running online raffles are made simple. Users simply have to verify their mode of entry, and they’re automatically entered to win whatever prize you are offering.

Source: Rafflecopter

More helpful email tips for nonprofits

While the tips mentioned above are great for those looking for new ways to get their email for nonprofits going and engaging, many nonprofits fall under the “what do we do now,” category.

Sometimes the answer is a lot closer than we think, so that’s why reevaluating your strategy and making sure you are checking off certain boxes can go a long way. That’s why we’ve listed a few “boxes” that your nonprofit may want to recheck if you're finding that your donor list seems to be full of “one-timers” instead of repeat constituents.

Don’t neglect your “thank you” emails

Thank you emails are an excellent way to not only thank your donors for their gift but when used with personalization methods, they can be stellar ways to generate return donors, simply because you took the time to recognize them and their efforts. And because of your mission, you have a lot of opportunity to get creative with how you say thank you. 

Thank you emails are an excellent way to not only thank your donors for their gift but when used with personalization methods, they can be stellar ways to generate return donors, simply because you took the time to recognize them and their efforts.

Source: The Balance Small Business

Even if you aren’t personalizing your thank you emails, just taking the time to recognize your donors can tug at their heartstrings, especially when done like the example above from charity water. They made excellent use of imagery and typography to not only make the receiver of the email feel as if they were being directly talked to, but the happy child with his glass of clean water make the receiver feel a sense of pride for being able to supplement that happiness through their donation.

Just like with your storytelling, you want to make sure you are making the reader feel something because that feeling of joy and happiness is contagious, which will encourage future donations. 

Consider a new donor drip campaign

Unfortunately, one-time donors can easily get lost amongst the shuffle when running an email campaign. This is why segmentation is so essential to any email campaign, but especially when it comes to emails for nonprofits. 

Being able to segment your new donors into a new donor drip campaign can and will encourage those one-time donors into a future donation if done correctly. 

Being able to segment your new donors into a new donor drip campaign can and will encourage those one-time donors into a future donation if done correctly.

Source: Business 2 Community

Just like with any other email campaign, a new donor campaign needs to pay special attention to the reader. You want to know details such as why they chose your nonprofit over others, supply them with more information on your nonprofit, and encourage future donations at the end of the campaign. Based on the drip idea from the image above, a new donor drip campaign may look something like this:

Just like with any other email campaign, a new donor campaign needs to pay special attention to the reader.

Source: Self-made

Engage with your one-time donors

Unfortunately, many marketing teams believe email marketing doesn’t get much more personal than a “hey name,” or interactive outside-of-email clicks. When it’s time to re-engage one-time donors, thinking outside of the box can go a long way. 

Why not use your email campaign to invite your donors out for a special event or engagement? We are talking like a wine night or afternoon at a local baseball game, not an online raffle. Physically engaging with your donors is an excellent way to encourage future donations because you are treating them like a person and not a cash flow source. 

Why not use your email campaign to invite your donors out for a special event or engagement?

Source: Donorbox

Local nonprofits aren’t the only ones that can benefit from these sorts of engagements. In fact, larger nonprofits may have the capability to set up much larger scale events, such as festivals, charity walks, and more. 

Consider a feedback loop

Finally, email marketers should never leave out the all-important feedback email. When many think nonprofits, they don’t often think of a feedback survey. However, these feedback loops can play a vital role in how you shape your future email campaigns to encourage repeat donations from your current donor list.  

Just like with any other business, asking your following for feedback makes them feel like a valuable part of your community, not just another person to ask for money. Supplying them with the chance to give you tips on improving charity events, communications, and more will help your nonprofit stand out from the average joes of the nonprofit world. 

Wrap up

When it comes to email for nonprofits, many are afraid to go too far out of the box because they want to be taken as seriously as their causes are. However, that approach won’t get you too far, simply for the fact that your nonprofit won’t stand out in the minds of donors. 

Instead, allow your brand to get a little creative, especially when trying to reach out to one-time donors.

  • Reach out to them

  • Tell them why they are important

  • Encourage engagement outside of the usual newsletters and updates

Need a little extra help creating an effective email marketing strategy for your nonprofit? Then we suggest going back to the drawing board and considering some of our nonprofit strategies to help build a solid platform for you to continue building on.

And if you’re a nonprofit looking to see how email can work for you, try out a demo of Emma today.

About the Author

Emma Email

Emma is an email marketing platform that gives you all the tools you need to send campaigns that really connect with your subscribers. Unlike other email providers, Emma puts their customers first. It's email marketing that works for you.

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