Your marketing team is running on all 4 cylinders, especially as they work on upcoming spring events. At this point, your team has already developed a decent email marketing strategy and the machine is running effectively, so you think. It is always a good time to take a step into a process that seems to be working well to see if there is anything you can do to truly lift up results.

There are various email objectives;

  1. to acquire
  2. to thank
  3. to celebrate
  4. to educate and inform
  5. to welcome
  6. to inspire

The team at Crowdster and their email provider, Open Moves have curated a list of ideas to help you unleash the potential of your email marketing strategy and program. Before reviewing the list of ideas below, consider how your nonprofit achieves these goals through the existing email marketing strategy.

The low hanging fruits of email marketing strategy

email marketing strategy



Spend some time reviewing the last few months of emails sent and how content was shared.

Is the content specific, actionable on behalf of your organization?

Did your organization spend time asking vs. storytelling?

Did you inspire or was it transactional?

Nonprofit emails stand out from traditional business or commerce emails in that there is an opportunity to inspire an attentive audience and further their commitment to your organization. Take time to develop inspirational content which can be made available across multiple email templates and shared across your social channels as well.


Who is the voice of your email? Are emails coming from the CEO or key leaders within the organization? Do they feel “un-attached”?

CEOs and leaders at nonprofits play a significant role in capturing the hearts and minds of their supporters. Take the opportunity to personalize emails by writing them on behalf of your leaders or CEO. They will feel more compassionate towards your cause and will serve as delivering an expertise in your field. Your supporters will identify with these emails as an opportunity to connect the dots.

Email Structure Design

A well designed email will get more clicks and an email that reads well across multiple devices (i.e mobile) will a have better chance of being read.

Here is a good checklist of things to consider from the team at Open Moves:

  • Keep format short (600-700 pixels) so you can keep from scrolling down the page
  • Clear division of sections within the email
  • Make sure your font is large enough (size 11 or higher)
  • Make the text dark and the background light
  • Make sure your color palette is in line with you brand and logo
  • Do not be all text or all images. Make sure there is a fine balance

Analytics – tracking

Take a look at how your basic stats are performing over the course of the last 3-6 months. Spot any interesting trends? Let’s review the basics and provide some insights as to what may be occurring

  • Open Rate – this should not be the only KPI of email performance. Open rates can be impacted by several factors which can distort their actual number (i.e. pre-loading emails, recipient not using HTML version of email). A better indicator of success is reviewing those email addresses that have opened your email more than once.
  • Click Through Rate – of the opens, who clicked on something in the email. If CTR is low, consider that the email did not have multiple click opportunities.
  • Bounce Rate or Delivery Rate – emails that were returned by the email server for a reason. If rate is rising, there may be an issue with how the list is being managed.
  • Unsubscribe Rate – 2% or under for a mature is list is standard while it is normal for new lists to have much higher rates.

Here is a good checklist of things to consider from the team at Open Moves:


Where possible, an email marketing strategy incorporating personalization makes sense. For example, when asking for donations, are you writing Dear John or starting with your pitch? Most email software platforms have the capability to introduce a personalization query. To do this, scrub your list for email addresses with first and last names. Send those emails a personalized email as a test vs the group without personalization and see what results might look like.

Big email marketing strategy ideas

Donation Abandonment

Do you know your abandonment rates?

It is a staggering fact that nonprofits tend to see 50-70% cart abandonment or donor form abandonment. Consider the lost opportunities for your organization and how these can be recovered by implementing a recovery email marketing strategy.

There are potentially many reasons for this but the overall takeaway is that donor forms should be easy, one step processes and should make the donor feel safe with their financial transaction. Another key consideration is mobile and the implementation of one click approach like Apple Pay functionality.

Develop a Donation Form or Cart Abandonment Campaign by developing a specific call to action for those emails that abandoned and do so in a specific time frame.

To see how Autism Speaks successfully deployed a donor form abandonment campaign, visit the Open Moves blog. Below the funnel shows how they were able to recover 15% of those donations.

donor cart abandonment

Automation and Segmentation

An important email marketing strategy is automation where a specific list with an identifiable specific action is designed. Below are ideas that you can design to achieve the objectives stated above.

  • Develop an annual birthday email that celebrates the birthday of your supporter and asking them to set up a peer to peer fundraiser as an idea for their big day.
  • Create welcome emails to new sign ups and anyone attending recent events
  • Design an automated email campaign for fundraisers (i.e. gratitude email for your brand ambassadors as they launch their P2P events)
  • Create monthly newsletters for segmented groups (topics for group a, group b, group c). In each newsletter, change the messaging and have specific call to actions. Test to see what group responded the most and review your various newsletter styles and content. Consider doing this test 2x a year and then fix the main newsletter for the following 5 months

To learn more about effective email marketing strategy, visit Open Moves and connect with their team for further ideas.

To evaluate peer to peer fundraising and mobile apps for your next fundraising event, visit Crowdster and schedule a demo.

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