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5 Types of Emails your NGO Should Be Sending

A checklist of email campaigns your nonprofit should send in order to build connections, advocate your cause, and eventually bring in resources.


If you have gone through the Basics of Email Marketing for nonprofits (insert link to previous article), then you already understand the importance of email marketing for nonprofits that are often strapped for time and resources. Email marketing is a small investment that can reap great benefits for your nonprofit organisation.


In today’s age, with innumerable tools and platforms facilitating easy and effective email marketing, it is easy to lose control and either underwhelm your email subscribers with too few emails or overwhelm them with too many. The right balance is essential for any nonprofit organizations’ email marketing campaigns to work towards the desired effect. Begin organizing your communications strategy, by checking the boxes on these essential emails that any successful nonprofit organization should be sending to attract and maintain stakeholders.

Welcome Email

Adding new subscribers to an emailing list is like beginning a brand-new relationship. A welcome email is an invaluable opportunity to make a lasting impression on these new donors, supporters, sponsors, volunteers or other community members. A welcome email is typically sent out within a couple of days of someone signing up to your subscriber list. A lot of email marketing platforms offer to automate this process for you, so you can be assured these emails go out on time.


A welcome email is essentially an informational email about your organisation, and offers a warm and friendly greeting to the recipient for signing up to your list. The positive tone of such an email helps recipients connect with your cause and become a part of the community. The call to action of a welcome email is ideally a link to your website. Remember, a welcome email is NOT the time to ask for a donation, instead use it to establish a connection with a new stakeholder for your cause. 

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This article is part of our free 9-part course, Creating a Marketing Strategy for Community Nonprofits.

Digest / Newsletter Email

This is one of the staples of any nonprofit organizations email marketing plan. A digest email (or a newsletter) is an excellent way to letting recipients know what is going on with your organization (for example, new events, fundraising campaigns, success stories or any other relevant information). A newsletter or digest email is also a great opportunity to include a prominent call to action to donate to an active fundraiser or to show support for an ongoing campaign by volunteering or sharing your news on personal social media channels.


On the flip side, having a newsletter requires a serious commitment – there is nothing worse than hearing from an organisation once every blue moon. A newsletter or digest email needs to be consistently sent at least once every month, so you can engage your recipients with news that is current. 

Holiday Email

Holidays are the giving season and therefore one of the most crucial times of the year to reach out to your donors, is during the holidays. It is estimated that about 34% of all charitable gifts are received during the last three months of the year – not only is it the season of giving, but people also want to make their tax-deductible gifts before the year ends.


Your nonprofit organisations communication strategy should make good use of this time, by sending out direct asks for donations during this end of the year. Remember that most donors give to a variety of different organisations and if you do not ask for the donation, someone else will. Use holiday-themed emails (such as the one below by charity: water), to appeal to the holiday spirit.

Thank You Email

Gratitude for supporters forms the cornerstone of all nonprofit operations. Any contribution made by stakeholders should trigger a simple, sincere thank you email to express gratitude for their time and efforts. A thank you also serves to win extra points with supporters by making them feel valued.  


In a thank you email, give a short description of how their donation or support will help you with your cause. Remember, this is not an informatory email so do not overcomplicate things for the recipient. Keep it short and simple. A thank you email does not require a call to action, however if you wish to add one you could go a with simple ‘share with your friends’ (to help share the cause the original recipient donated / signed up for) or a ‘read more’ (which could lead them to a website page that talks more about the cause they just supported). 

Update Email 

Along with a thank you email as described above, you must ‘close the loop’ with donors and other supporters by sending an update email. Success stories sent as updates, are one of the most powerful tools to engage with supporters. Not only do they inform supporters of how their contribution has benefited your cause, but they are also a great opportunity to ask for further help with your campaigns.


To make your update email stand out in the daily barrage of emails, make the email attractive and engaging by using happy pictures of beneficiaries and keeping the language of your email positive-toned. Update emails also establish credibility with recipients while engaging them in a story that they care about, and have the power to impact.


In Summary

Different types of emails are crafted for varied focus groups such as donors, volunteers, partners, supporters, sponsors. Each email sent by your nonprofit organization serves a specific purpose and furthers your nonprofits cause. Using the basic skeleton structure of the email types we listed above, you can soon generate an effective email communication strategy that will help build support, credibility and trust for your organization in the long run. 

About the Author

Anita started her professional career with a degree in computer science engineering, but over the last 8 years, has helped various corporate and nonprofit organisations develop their marketing strategy. She is passionate about conceptualising and implementing innovative campaigns that help build powerful brands. Anita has been a blogger and photographer for over a decade, and in her spare time can be found coding Tumblr themes, rereading Tolkien, journaling her adventures over at That’s So Annie or trying her hand at learning something new (right now, it’s baking).

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