Home NonprofitNonprofit Management 6 Ways To Build Rapport With Donors Through Nonprofit Email Marketing

6 Ways To Build Rapport With Donors Through Nonprofit Email Marketing

by Clay Harmon

As a nonprofit, relationships are everything, and you should be trying to develop relationships whether you’re meeting potential donors in person or via email. The problem with cultivating online relationships is that they can feel impersonal at times, and so potential donors might have a harder time connecting with your organization and its mission. It’s important that when you use tools like nonprofit email marketing or social posts on platforms like Facebook that you establish rapport by engaging in consistent messaging.

Creating consistent messaging can be a challenge if you have multiple volunteers or members of your nonprofit who are drafting your emails or engaging through social media on your behalf. But short of micromanaging communications, here are methods you can implement in your nonprofit to create a voice that your audience will come to know you by.


1. Establish The Sound Of Your Voice

Do you want people to know your nonprofit as being tongue-in-cheek? Completely sincere? A place that is vocal about social justice? Asking yourselves these questions and having the answers sitting at the back of the minds of everyone who writes your email marketing or social posts is a great first step for establishing a consistent voice. When you have a consistent voice, your organization develops a pseudo-personality, and people tend to remember nonprofits with a memorable personality.

For example, an organization called Mind provides support for people who deal with mental health issues. Their message emphasizes the prevalence of poor mental health in everyday life and that it’s nothing for people to be ashamed of. Their voice, consisting of warm, sympathetic messages, doesn’t shy away from difficult subject matters.

According to research done by Mind, they found that the use of formal language was undermining engagement with the organization. Phrases like “mental distress” and “Mind’s services” could be construed as clinical language that could put off a person from using Mind’s services or even finding help somewhere else.

Mind decided to use more personal messaging, like using the phrases “we” and “our” to show it was a team of compassionate people writing the words on the organization’s website. By repositioning to more personal, empathetic language, a charity is able to connect with struggling individuals.


2. Respond Quickly And With Feeling

Now that you’ve created your voice, there are some best practices involved when putting that voice into action. For example, you’ll want to maintain a sense of urgency when a dialogue has been opened between you and an audience member. Did someone comment on one of your social media posts or fill out the form on your “Contact Us” page? Be sure to respond now instead of later. Doing so not only improves your engagers’ experience with your organization, but it builds a sense of importance. People want to feel like they matter. When you’re communicating with someone in person, it’s a fluid conversation, right? You’ll want to maintain this fluidity online as well.


Anyone who has visited Wikipedia has likely come across their yellow banner asking for donations. But what fewer people know is the kind of care and attention Wikipedia provides to those who donate. This second email feels very personalized, even though it’s likely an automated message that is sent out whenever someone donates. They cover the bases every nonprofit should when sending emails like this: they remind the donor why donating is important, they use passionate language and resort to “you” statements instead of “we” statements, and they avoid pressuring people into donating again by including a cancellation link in case anyone changes their mind.

Personalizing the message by doing things such as referring to the recipient by their first name will make your audience connect better with your email. Make sure the recipient feels like you’re talking to them specifically and that they’re not a faceless person in a crowd. Another helpful tip is to include a call to action in your email. This can be a button or a link that will send the reader to a helpful resource that will allow them to continue engaging with your organization.

This is your opportunity to build a friendship, make this person feel at home, and make them feel important and heard.


3. Construct Email Campaigns

While some of your communications need to be personalized, automating some of your nonprofit email marketing is a great way to ensure your audience receives a constant source of information and news from your nonprofit (as long as you don’t overdo it). With applications such as Hubspot, you can write out your emails ahead of time and schedule when they get sent out, relative to when you receive someone’s email. Want to send a 3-day email course to someone newly introduced to your nonprofit, which teaches them all the ins and outs of your organization? Or maybe you want to send monthly updates relating to the mission your nonprofit has set out to accomplish. Automated nonprofit email marketing is a great way to keep your nonprofit in the minds of those who have heard about you. Just be wary about sending emails too often. Nobody likes being spammed.

If you’d like to learn more about nonprofit email marketing, check out this course. There, we go over a few ways to build up your email lists so you grow your audience and find more people to fall in love with your organization’s mission.


4. Do Live Videos On Social Media 

It takes a certain type of personality to not feel nerve-racked at the prospect of broadcasting yourself up close on your nonprofit’s Facebook page. However, it’s a great way for people to connect with your nonprofit by seeing that actual human beings are behind the curtains operating everything! It’s a great way to show your genuine love for your nonprofit’s mission, and people love seeing other people be genuine. Get on that camera to talk about what your nonprofit is doing during this time and talk about exciting new ways your nonprofit is giving back. If you’d like helpful tips on how to live broadcast on Facebook, read our article.

If you’re trying to get ideas of what a Facebook Live stream can look like, look no further than Whale and Dolphin Conservation. They conducted a live interview between one of its managers and an expert on plastic pollution.


5. Ask Your Followers And Donors Questions 

If you’re trying to increase engagement through your nonprofit email marketing or through social media, try asking questions. Don’t send a boring email or post the same things you’ve posted before, or share a story with a generic image from your organization. Social media platforms actually reward people for doing polls and questions on the platform because if people engage with those polls you will start to show up more frequently on their feeds.


6. Be Intentional 

Whether you’re asking a question, polling them on your Instagram stories, sending emails or asking something to spark a conversation, you want to be accomplishing multiple things during the dialogue and trying to get information that will be useful to you beyond establishing a relationship. If you can learn something about those who engage with you, you can use that data to improve engagement further down the road. For example, ask your donors to share their favorite reason for supporting you. Then turn around and develop future messaging based on that feedback. You can even share your audience’s positive responses on social media and tag them.


Digital engagement is all about being timely and intentional. Communicate with a purpose, and leave your donors with a good feeling about you and your organization. And keep engaging!

If you are in need of a nonprofit email marketing software or email marketing tools, check out Aplos Donor Management. You can create and send one-off emails, as well as create automated emails to trigger when a donor or constituent performs a specific behavior.

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