Is Email Dying as a Nonprofit Communications Channel?

With all of the communications channels available today, you might ask yourself, “Is email on its way out for nonprofit communications?” It’s true that we have more options today than we had in the past, including texting, social media, and online advertising. But have newer communications channels elbowed out email?

Research suggests that not only is email not on its way out, but it’s actually a critically important communications channel for nonprofit marketing and fundraising.

How effective are emails for nonprofits?

According to the Neon One 2022 report, Donors: Understanding the Future of Individual Giving, 48% of donors list email as their preferred method for getting updates and appeals from an organization. Direct mail is the second most preferred channel at 21%, followed by social media (17%), text messaging (8%), and phone calls (2%).

Similarly, the 2020 Global Trends in Giving Report from Nonprofit Tech for Good shows that 26% of donors say that email is the channel that most inspires them to give, coming in above social media, websites, and print materials.

Considering these data points, the better question the sector might be asking is, “How do we optimize our emails to ensure we make the most of this popular communications channel?”

How to make the most of your nonprofit’s emails

I recently sat down with Cherian Koshy, Vice President of Development for Merit America, and Tim Sarrantonio, Director of Corporate Brand at Neon One, to talk about how nonprofits can use email more effectively. You can hear our full discussion in the NonProfit PRO Voice podcast, Best Practices to Improve Your Nonprofit’s Email Engagement.

The discussion focuses on data from a recent report from Neon One, The Nonprofit Email Report: Data-Backed Insights for Better Engagement. The idea behind the report is to provide nonprofit-specific email performance benchmarks and data-backed email strategies for optimizing the use of email for nonprofits.

One thing that makes the report unique is that it not only looks specifically at nonprofit email campaign metrics for larger nonprofits (those with lists that include more than 1,000 contacts), but also provides detailed insights into how email works for small nonprofits (those with list sizes between 250 and 999 contacts), which are often left out of email performance benchmark reports.

Why are nonprofit-specific email metrics so important?

Well, here’s one example: Traditional wisdom says that the best day to send email newsletters is early in the week – on Mondays or Tuesdays. While that might hold true in general, this report suggests that the best day for a nonprofit to send email newsletters is on Fridays. 

That’s just one data point. The report touches on a wide range of topics, from benchmarks around the most impactful email subject lines and preview text to average open, click-through, and unsubscribe rates for different sizes of nonprofits.

These benchmarks aren’t meant to put pressure on your organization to perform to a fixed set of standards. They’re offered as a way to gain understanding and insights into what email approaches might motivate your audiences so that you can connect with them in more impactful ways.  

Learn more about benchmarks and best practices for nonprofit email communications

You can learn more tips and insights about optimizing your email communications at the BridgeTECH conference on Wednesday, August 2, 2023 in National Harbor, MD. This tech-focused day kicks off the full Bridge Conference. See the BridgeTECH lineup, and register today.

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