We tell our clients all the time: If you don’t have a powerful email program, you’re leaving money and engagement on the table.
Outreach tactics like direct mail, TV, and digital advertising might also be a good fit for your project, but when every dollar of your campaign or organization’s budget counts, it often makes the most sense to invest first in email.
Email is tried and true, and remains an essential method for raising money and turning supporters into activists. We especially love email as a means to grow long-term movements.
Here are four reasons your organization should invest in its email program now:
Almost everybody uses email.
Although it may come as a surprise in our world dominated by texting, tools like Slack, and constantly changing social media trends, 89 percent of American internet users over age 15 use email. With 3.9 billion active email users around the globe, more than half of the world’s total population currently uses email, a significantly larger population than is active on social media. Data indicates that the younger share of email users are particularly active, and actually prefer receiving promotional asks through email versus social media.
The ubiquity of email is especially important when you’re trying to stretch resources. Your prospective email audience will likely be larger than your audience on any one social media platform. If you successfully grow your email list, you’ll be able to reach more people than if you maintained a presence on multiple social media platforms, saving you valuable time.
Email gives you control over your message and your audience.
When you grow your audience of opted-in email subscribers, you own that list. That means you can take your spreadsheet of email addresses to any CRM or platform and start contacting the people on it in whatever way you think will be most effective.
Conversely, when you post your message to social media, the platform you post on has complete control over who sees your message and how it's presented. And social media platforms like Facebook are increasingly unreliable as a medium. For one thing, Facebook has recently throttled how much political content is shown in users’ feeds, and unfortunately, Facebook has a broad definition of “political” that includes posts related to social issues or current events.
When you prioritize email address acquisition, you’re ensuring your organization has a reliable way to stay connected with supporters that isn’t subject to algorithmic or platform policy changes. Once a supporter opts into your email list, you can send them your message without the content restraints of social media. You’re able to segment your audience and communicate with subscribers as often as you deem appropriate.
For fundraising, email is still #1.
When it comes to fundraising, email reigns supreme. Email consistently delivers the highest return on investment and largest share of revenue for organizations fundraising online. When used effectively, email remains the most reliable method for bringing in donations, and has the added bonus of cultivating an audience of supporters you can engage time and again. In 2021, email accounted for 15% of all online revenue.
While digital advertising offers an attractive shortcut to reaching likely donors, average costs per donation for digital ads range between $46 and $350+ and can be prohibitive for some smaller groups.
Our experience with clients has shown time and again that email is a dependable tool and source of revenue for organizations fundraising online. We helped one nonprofit organization raise $1 million in 30 days entirely through email fundraising!
Email can help you build long-term relationships.
Our team specializes in building movements. We love email as a tool for building relationships and moving people up the ladder of engagement. Powerful email programs can convey personality and inspire action. List segmentation allows you to further develop relationships with supporters by tailoring your messages so they speak specifically to the target audience.
Strong email programs also generate a lot of useful information — we’ve helped clients use email to test messaging, identify supporter priorities, and gather opposition research from the field.
Because you control the means and message for your email program, you’re able to send what you want when you want to, and as long as you consider and incorporate feedback from your email metrics, you’re likely to reach and engage interested parties. A solid investment in growing your email program is likely to benefit your cause for years to come.