Best Nonprofit Email Examples That Actually Convert

Best Nonprofit Email Examples That Actually Convert
06 February, 2023 • ... • 1378 views
Natasha Zack
by Natasha Zack

Staying in touch with its audience is important for organizations across all industries. But for nonprofits, it’s vital. Unlike for-profit companies, charity organizations don’t normally sell goods or services — yet they still need money to function. Therefore, they have to constantly craft compelling messages in order to secure donations. That can be extremely challenging. Luckily, there are plenty of great nonprofit email examples to draw inspiration from. Here are the 9 best ones of our choice.

Nonprofit emails: What they are and why send them

Nonprofit emails are marketing emails that not-for-profit organizations (public charities, private foundations, and the like) send to their contacts. Technically, these emails work in a similar manner as they do in for-profit email marketing. But the goals are often different.

These goals include: 

  • Attracting new supporters and potential donors 
  • Raising awareness 
  • Securing donations  
  • Recruiting volunteers, and more. 

Reaching these goals is critical to nonprofits to continue functioning: without supporters, donors, and volunteers, these organizations will cease to exist. Having no extra money to spare on marketing only adds to the challenge. 

And that’s where email marketing comes in: it’s omnipresent, easily automated, very cost-effective, and far more personalized than social media. Moreover, nonprofit emails have a remarkably high average open rate of  23%-25,5% — one of the top results among the 20+ industries examined. All of that combined proves email to be an ideal marketing tool overall for charity organizations.  

Yet these are the click-through rates that really make the difference — but rafting compelling nonprofit emails is no easy feat. Luckily, there are plenty of inspiring nonprofit email examples that you can use as templates. Below, you’ll find the 9 best ones of our choice.

9 best nonprofit email examples to learn from

There are many types of emails marketers use to build effective nonprofit campaigns. But some are particularly popular. In the list below, we break down the 9 cherry-picked examples, each representing one of the types most frequently used by nonprofits.

Margin note: The emails on the following list are sorted by type in order to best illustrate the specific techniques. Yet many nonprofit emails are an amalgamation of techniques from different types. For example, welcome emails often include surveys and thank-you’s, fundraising emails frequently utilize storytelling, etc. So, if you see an email and can’t decide which type it is, it’s probably several of them at a time. That’s perfectly normal!

Welcome emails

Everyone loves a warm welcome. Today, when email marketing is an integral part of our everyday lives, new subscribers typically expect to get a welcome message in their inbox a short time after signing up. They also have certain expectations regarding the content of the welcome email (or welcome sequence). 

To get this crucial initial interaction with potential donors right, it’s imperative to use automation (triggered emails) and carefully craft copy for your welcome email template(s). 

Take a look at how WWF handles the first email in its welcome sequence:  

Welcome email from WWF

In this exemplary email, everything is present that’s necessary for onboarding new subscribers:  

  • The tone is friendly and full of appreciation.
  • Information on where and how to start helping the organization is very visible thanks to colorful graphic elements. 
  • There’s technical info included on how to take action and manage email preferences.

Moreover, WWF includes a survey in their first welcome message to learn more about new subscribers. This is a common practice, especially for welcome sequences. But of course, there are many other ways to use surveys (more on that later). 

Here’s another example: The Nature Conservancy approaches its welcome email as a thank-you message, and there’s only one link included in the text. This email is simple, endearing, and easy-to-read. However, it calls for a quick follow-up because there is no clear CTA included.

Welcome email from The Nature Conservancy

Thank-you emails

A staple of email marketing campaigns of all kinds, thank-you emails are essential for nonprofits. To show appreciation, nurture relationships, and, eventually, keep donations flowing, charity organizations literally need to thank their subscribers on every step of the way. Luckily, there are many occasions that call for a nice thank-you note.      

Thank-you emails can appear at the following stages of a nonprofit email marketing campaign: 

  • As part of the welcome series after subscription 
  • After donating 
  • After volunteering for your charity event  
  • As a seasonal or holiday greeting, and more 

Here’s an example of a simple but heartfelt thank-you email from charity:water (this organization is great at crafting concise messages that go straight to the heart!). 

Thank-you email from charity:water
Source: Really Good Emails

This email comes with an intriguing subject line “We’re inspired by your generosity”. The body contains a captivating image featuring a gesture strongly associated with thankfulness; in the text itself, formulas such as “generous people just like you” and “thanks to supporters like you” help create a sense of belonging to a community and inspire further support.  

Storytelling emails

From early childhood, people learn to love and appreciate stories. Today, well-crafted narratives of all kinds still capture our attention and touch our hearts just like centuries — even the long ones, despite the reportedly shrinking human attention span. That’s why storytelling in email marketing is so popular across industries. 

For charity organizations, storytelling is an effective way to get their message across, nurture readers, and make them more inclined to donate. For that reason, the technique is utilized in nonprofit emails of nearly all types: fundraising emails, newsletters, seasonal and holiday emails, and more. 

Let’s see how it works in a seasonal email from WaterAid:

Storytelling email from WaterAid
Source: Copper Charity Email Gallery

The story instantly draws the readers in with a strong opening sentence. Then the narrative becomes increasingly dramatic, building towards the CTA. By the time we get to that part, it’s hard to resist taking action — especially considering the fact that the email is tied up to Christmas, the traditional giving season. 

But words are not the only way to tell a story. In this example from Charity:Water, visuals complement the caption to make the already impressive narrative even more personal. Moreover, this email illustrates how you can effectively drive traffic to your website or landing page via storytelling by revealing only part of the story.

Storytelling email from charity:water
Source: Really Good Emails

Fundraising emails

Fundraising emails are the backbone of nonprofit email marketing. But asking for donations is tricky as there’s a fine line between creating a sense of urgency and being too pushy — and that line is hard not to cross. That’s why charity organizations use techniques such as storytelling and showcasing data and numbers in their fundraising emails to subtly appeal to both emotions and reason and thus increase click-through rates.  

Study this fundraising email from Red Clay. It’s an email sent by a commercial company, but in this instance, that company is gathering funds for a nonprofit organization — Global Empowerment Mission. 

Fundraising email from Red Clay
Source: Really Good Emails

This email makes use of both storytelling and numbers to underscore the gravity of the situation and highlight the contrast between the safety that potential donors are enjoying  and the devastation of those struck by the storm. 

Besides, by pledging to match the campaign proceedings, the company helps donors (or, rather, customers, because they still get their money’s worth of the product) feel like they’re making a greater impact.  

Survey & feedback emails

Feedback is vital to understanding your subscribers and gleaning important insights for your future marketing campaigns. And there’s probably no easier way to quickly gather feedback from your potential and existing donors than running surveys via email.  

Email surveys can appear at various stages of your nonprofit marketing campaign and serve many different purposes. For example, you can utilize them in welcome emails (see the example above — the WWF welcome email), prior to launching new projects, after certain transactions, etc.   

The following email from Age UK is a great example of a survey email aimed at measuring the relevance of its Information and Advice email to its audience:  

Survey email from Age UK
Source: Copper Charity Email Gallery

In this type of email, the best strategy is to be straightforward and follow a typical structure:

  • First, explain what the survey is about.
  • Then, explain why you need it and how you are going to use the results.
  • Finally, include the estimated time the survey will take and mention your privacy policy to reassure your subscribers. 

Embedding surveys in your emails, however, requires specific knowledge. Luckily, you can learn everything you need from our detailed guide on how to embed a survey in an email (spoiler: there are more ways than one!)

Holiday and seasonal emails

Yet again, there are several ways to approach charity holiday emails. For instance, you can frame them as storytelling or ‘success story’ emails, include yearly results, or send a holiday-related thank-you note. Framing fundraising emails as holiday or seasonal greetings is also very common.  

Take a look at this holiday email from charity:water. There’s no eloquent storytelling or impressive numbers here — just a simple request for a donation in the form of a holiday gift. What makes this email truly compelling is the nature of the gift: across cultures, time is generally considered the most valuable asset.   

Holiday email from charity:water
Source: Really Good Emails

Asking for donations during seasonal holidays is perfectly fine — moreover, it’s actually the best timing because that is exactly when most people are in the mood for giving. But if you’d rather choose another occasion, one can never go wrong with something like #GivingThursday. 

But of course you don’t always have to ask for donations. The following email from WE is a good example of a holiday greeting aimed at nurturing connection and a sense of community.

Holiday email from WE
Source: Really Good Emails

This email is basically a thank-you email sent on a seasonal occasion (the New Year). As such, it utilizes such formulas as “thank you for being with us” and “we truly appreciate having you in our community/family”. The opening sentence, however, is typical for a new-year message. 

Emails based on data

Storytelling is an ideal way to appeal to people’s emotions, but sometimes it’s just not enough. To showcase actual results and make your message more convincing, nonprofits use data — numbers, ideally. To instantly grab attention and increase open rate, they often include such numbers in their data-based email’s subject line and/or present them in a visual form in the email body.  

Besides making emails more attention-grabbing, numbers help increase trustworthiness, thus prompting people to donate more willingly. Data comes in handy in various types of emails, but progress update and end-of-the-year emails is where it fits in particularly well. 

Here’s how it works in a data-based email from Trickle Up:

Data-based email from Trickle Up
Source: Copper Charity Email Gallery

Essentially, it’s a success story — just impersonal and with numbers. In a simple visual form, this email shows the staggering impact the organization has made, thus establishing it as highly worth supporting and donating to. 

“Success story” emails

In turn, success stories are a specific kind of personal storytelling that’s focused on achievements and accomplishments. For charity organizations, these emails are a perfect way to retain their donors. The technique is simple but effective: when people see that their efforts bring visible results, they feel more inclined to keep supporting the cause.  

Unlike data-based emails, these stories appeal to emotions more than to reason, evoking a strong psychological response in people who find numbers too abstract. The outcome, however, is similar: success stories make your organization seem more trustworthy.   

In this email from charity:water, success stories are utilized in a fundraising email to inspire readers and prompt them to donate. Besides, these stories work as a way to drive traffic to the organization’s website via hyperlinks.  

“Success story” email from charity:water
Source: Really Good Emails

In this example, images are part of the story, and they are no less important than words. Just looking at this boy playing the violin makes one want to immediately support his cause! 

Volunteer recruitment emails

Money is essential for nonprofits to function, but so is physical help from volunteers. To quickly form up a team of volunteers for an event, charity organizations use targeted emails.

By sending these emails to subscribers who live near the event location and have the necessary skills, they maximize the effect from their efforts and minimize negative reactions. 

To that end, they typically use a feature called list segmentation. You can find this function in most ESPs (email service providers). 

Whichever way you choose to segment your list, it’s imperative to come up with a compelling message and CTA as well. Take a look at how Help for Heroes accomplishes the task:

volunteer recruitment email from Help for Heroes
Source: Really Good Emails

Besides being truly compelling thanks to highlighting the impact the previous-year event has made, this email is also informative. It contains the essential details that potential volunteers need to know: dates, contact center phone number and email. There’s also a call to share the email with friends and family aimed at increasing the outreach. 

Here’s another amazing example of a volunteer recruitment email that’s hard to resist. In this instance, even more details are available: the organizers not only tell the exact date but also provide the estimated time needed and how much money each volunteer will help them raise. 

Volunteer recruitment email from Barnados
Source: Copper Charity Email Gallery

Final thoughts

Email marketing is an effective way for nonprofits to stay in touch with audiences and reach marketing goals. By crafting compelling emails, charity organizations can attract and retain supporters, raise awareness, and, most importantly, secure donations. 

Using examples from this article as inspiration will help you diversify your nonprofit email marketing campaigns and produce incredible emails that will actually convert your readers into loyal supporters and donors. Together, you’ll continue changing the world for the better! 

06 February, 2023
Article by
Natasha Zack
I’m a professional journalist with 10+ years of experience. Throughout my career, I’ve worked with various kinds of media — print, online, broadcast. Currently, I write copy for brand media and teach English part-time. I also have my own edtech passion project dedicated to teaching English via Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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