Building a long-term relationship with your donors takes time and effort, but it is well worth it.

If they have donated to your organisation once, they are likely to donate again. It is crucial to keep your NGO top of mind, and to keep those who engage with you loyal. There are a range of communication channels that all play an important role in getting the message across, whether it be via email, social media, events, re-marketing or online advertising.

Email is the driving force behind online giving and is a powerful tool to encourage donations. Email gives you an opportunity to really educate your audiences, and get them engaged.

In this blog we are focusing on how you can use email to build an ongoing relationship with your donor base.

How do I grow my email database?

In order for email communication to be effective, you are going to need a database to send updates to. This can be run in cojunction with physical mail-outs, tailored to the ways your various audiences like to interact with your content.

We would suggest segmenting your email database, to make sure the experience of your subscribers is as effective as possible. This means you can send specific content to users with certain interests, resulting in increased engagement.

Capturing subscriber details

There are a number of ways to collect your donor's email addresses:

1) On your website, in the form of an email subscription. You can set up several lists for subscribers to sign-up to, if they have particular interests.

2) In person, at events or when you are collecting in fundraising campaigns. People are more likely to sign-up when they are asked directly.

3) When they make a donation, as they are already on board with your cause. You can add an email subscription at the point of dontation, whether it is online or offline.

Tip: Make sure you gather as much data about each donor as possible (without discouraging them from signing up), so you can use it to segment your lists.

What tool do I use to manage my database?

There are a range of highly credible, and well supported tools that are suitable for email marketing. We would recommend MailChimp, as it offers a wide range of functionality for a very low investment, and is easy to use.

If you have existing email addresses in your CRM or fundraiser software, you can import these into MailChimp easily.

How can email marketing encourage loyalty?

There are a few tried-and-tested ways of using email marketing to your advantage. We would recommend setting up automated emails, as they are a great way to educate your donors without using too much of your precious staff and volunteer resources on an ongoing basis. Although they do take time to set up, once they are rolling, you can let them run without too much involvement.

Types of drip marketing campaigns

Some examples that are proving popular are:

1) Welcome emails introducing your cause. The key goal is to here educate your audience. You might want to share a story, recent presentation, or upcoming event they might be interested in.

2) Thanks for donating email, encouraging them to spread the word. You can do this by asking them to share a ‘I just donated’ social media post with their friends and family.

3) It’s been a year since you last donated email. This could include donation milestones since then, highlights of the year, and how their last donation made a difference.

4) One-off urgent emails are also great way to generate last minute donations.

5) Updates on donation milestones. If they see you are close to reaching your goals, they are more likely to donate again.

Tip: Include sponsors in the footer of the email. This is a great way to show their support and generate exposure for their brand as well.

If this sounds like something you would like to explore further for your organisation – get in touch!

This is the third blog post in our four-part NGO series. See our other posts on digital communication for NGOs, growing and diversifying the pathway to giving, and encouraging donations online.