Nonprofit Best Practices: 7 Tips for Higher Fundraising Email Open Rates


From Analysis to A/B Testing: Optimizing Your Nonprofit’s Fundraising Emails

Fundraising is a critical part of any nonprofit organization’s operations. It allows nonprofits to continue their essential work and support their causes. One of the most effective ways to raise funds is through email marketing.

A 2019 report by Nonprofit Tech for Good found that 51% of donors prefer to receive updates from nonprofits via email. This report shows that a fundraising email can be used as an important communication channel for nonprofit organizations to connect with their supporters and keep them engaged with their mission. By implementing best practices like segmenting their email list, analyzing metrics, and A/B testing send times, nonprofits can increase their email engagement and build stronger relationships with their donors, ultimately leading to increased fundraising results.

fundraising email open preferences

Developing an effective fundraising email schedule can make a significant difference in the success of your campaigns. Here are seven tips for creating an effective email schedule:

1. Gather Historical Fundraising Data

It is important to analyze historical data related to previous fundraising email efforts prior to launching a campaign. This information can be used to identify areas that may have an impact on the success of your fundraising activities, as well as areas of potential variation.

What are the most effective times for open rates based on region or country?

The best time to send a fundraising email depends on the region or country that you are targeting. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, research indicates that donors in different regions and countries respond differently to emails at different times of day.

In general, research indicates that a potential donor will tend to open emails more frequently during their local business hours. 

Are peak email send times correlated with peak donation times?

Sometimes the perfect time for open rates doesn’t actually reach your donors at the time they are most likely to submit a donation. This information can help you make informed assumptions about when your subscribers are most likely to engage with your emails.

2. Analyze Email Metrics

Once you’ve sent your emails, it’s important to review the metrics to determine the success of your email campaigns. Metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and bounce rates provide valuable information that can help you refine and improve your email schedule.

Open rates indicate how many recipients opened your email, while click-through rates measure the number of email recipients who clicked on a link within your email. Conversion rates show how many recipients completed a desired action, such as making a donation or signing up for an event, and bounce rates indicate how many emails were undeliverable.

Where to look for trends in your fundraising campaigns

By analyzing these metrics, you can identify patterns and trends in your email performance. For example, if you notice that open rates are consistently low for emails sent on a certain day of the week, you may want to consider shifting your email schedule to a different day.

Similarly, if you see that your click-through rates are higher for emails that include a certain type of content or have a specific subject line, you can adjust your content and email subject lines accordingly to improve engagement.

By regularly reviewing your email metrics and making adjustments as needed, you can fine-tune your email schedule for optimal performance and engagement with your subscribers. This can lead to better fundraising results and increased support for your nonprofit organization.

3. A/B Test Your Email Send Times

One of the best ways to determine the optimal time to send your emails is by regularly conducting A/B testing. This involves sending two versions of the same email to a subset of your email list, with one version sent at one time and the other version sent at a different time. By comparing the performance metrics of each version, you can determine which send time is most effective for engaging your subscribers and increasing your open rates.

According to a 2022 study by M+R Benchmarks, the average open rate for nonprofit emails in the United States is only 24.21%. This means that the majority of your subscribers may not even be opening your emails. However, by implementing best practices like segmenting your list, analyzing metrics, and conducting A/B testing, you can improve your open rates and overall email engagement. By doing so, you can foster deeper connections with your audience and drive more donations to make a stronger impact for your cause.

4. Personalize & Segment Your Outreach

Segmenting your email list based on the demographics, behavior, or interests of your subscribers is particularly important for fundraising efforts. A study by Blackbaud found that personalized emails have an average open rate of 29.9%, which is significantly higher than the average open rate of 18.0% for non-personalized emails.

By segmenting your donors and sending targeted emails that speak to their interests and giving history, you can increase engagement and ultimately boost fundraising results. For example, you could segment donors based on their giving level, previous campaign contributions, geographic location, or preferred type of communication.

“Segmentation is a lot of work. But it’s worth the effort. Segmentation of email lists increases the number of recipients who open your emails, and can double the rate at which recipients click through to your website.”

Carl Bloom & Associates

Tailoring your emails to specific groups can also help build stronger relationships with your donors, leading to increased donor loyalty and retention. By showing that you understand and appreciate their unique interests and motivations for giving, you can create a more personalized experience for each donor and ultimately inspire greater support for your cause.

5. Don’t Overwhelm Your Donors

When it comes to fundraising, it’s important to strike a balance between staying top-of-mind with your potential donors and overwhelming them with too many emails. While you want to keep your donors informed about your organization’s activities and digital fundraising campaigns, bombarding them with constant emails can be counterproductive.

If donors feel like they are receiving too many emails from your organization, they may start to tune out or even become annoyed with your messaging. This can lead to a decrease in engagement, and ultimately, a decrease in donations.

According to a study by Hubspot, 78% of respondents have unsubscribed from emails because a brand was sending too many emails. This emphasizes the importance of finding the right frequency for your email communications. You can use A/B testing to determine how often your donors want to receive emails, and segment your list accordingly.

In addition to frequency, it’s important to consider the content of your emails. Make sure each email has a clear purpose and offers value to your donors. This could be information about upcoming fundraising events, updates on your organization’s impact, or even personal stories from beneficiaries of your organization’s work.

By striking the right balance of frequency and valuable content, you can keep your donors engaged and interested in supporting your cause.

6. Don’t Forget About Mobile Optimization

Did you know that over 70% of people check their email on their mobile devices? This highlights the importance of optimizing your emails for mobile devices.

According to a study by Nonprofit Source, emails that are not mobile-responsive have a 15% lower open rate than those that are optimized for mobile devices.

To avoid missing out on potential donations and engagement, make sure your email templates are mobile-responsive, use a clear font size, and keep your content concise and to the point. Additionally, always include a prominent call-to-action button that is easy to tap on mobile devices.

7. Bonus Tip: Fundraising with SMS

Integrated text messaging and email is a powerful tool for nonprofit organizations to communicate with their supporters. By combining these two channels, nonprofits can increase their chances of reaching their audience, regardless of their preferred mode of communication.

Email is a popular and effective way for nonprofits to communicate with their supporters. It allows organizations to send longer messages, provide links to more detailed information, and attach documents or other files. However, email is not always the best way to reach supporters who are constantly on-the-go or who may not check their email regularly.

Text messaging, on the other hand, is a more immediate and personal method of communication that can reach supporters in real-time, wherever they are. Using SMS for fundraising is also a great way to send quick reminders or updates, such as event invitations or urgent calls to action.

By integrating both text messaging and email, nonprofits can choose the most effective channel for each message and increase the chances of reaching their supporters. For example, a nonprofit may use email to send a detailed newsletter or fundraising appeal, while using text messaging to remind supporters about an upcoming event or deadline.

This integrated approach also allows nonprofits to tailor their messages to the preferences of their supporters. For example, younger supporters may prefer text messaging, while older supporters may prefer email. By giving supporters the option to choose their preferred mode of communication, nonprofits can increase engagement and build stronger relationships with their audience.

Learn more about Engaging Networks Messaging Tool with Email & SMS


Creating an effective email schedule is crucial for nonprofit organizations to raise funds and support their causes. By following these seven tips, you can improve your email marketing strategy, engage your subscribers, and increase your revenue.

With the help of our Donor Engagement Platform, you can create your next fundraising email that will resonate with your community and inspire them to support your cause. 

Want to learn more about how Engaging Networks help you set up amazing fundraising email campaigns? Connect with a team member today, or request a demo to see how we help organizations around the world engage with their audiences.

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Request a demo today and one of our team will be in touch with additional information about how Engaging Networks can help you raise more money and win more campaigns.

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