January, 2020

The Nonprofit Email Apocalypse is Coming

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

For the last several years, we’ve blogged and trained nonprofit communicators about the importance of monitoring email engagement – not just open and click-through rates on individual emails, but how many people on your email list have opened at least one email within a set period time, such as the last three months. . It’s not a number that’s front and center in most email service provider dashboards (but should be). Yet it’s incredibly important to whether your emails get delivered to the inbox or to the spam folder. For this year’s Nonprofit Communications Trends Report , we decided to survey the extent to which nonprofits are implementing good email list management practices. The results are not good. In fact, they are downright awful. We at Nonprofit Marketing Guide aren’t “the sky is falling” alarmist types by nature. But we’re pulling the alarm on this one: If nonprofits don’t start implementing email list management and engagement best practices, they will bring on their own personal email apocalypse. Nonprofits that ignore email engagement and list management best practices will soon find that what used to be an effective communications tool has become utterly unreliable and perhaps even useless. Why? Because if you don’t manage your email marketing for engagement, your deliverability will go down. That’s the email jargon for “your emails will go straight to the spam folder.” It’s time to stop worrying so much about whether your subject line sounds spammy and start worrying about how you manage your mailing list. . We aren’t the only ones sounding the alarm. EveryAction’s 2019 Email Deliverability Study estimates that the nonprofit sector could be losing almost $100 million in donations because appeals are going into spam folders. In its 2019 end-of-year fundraising season wrap-up , M+R reported that email deliverability was a big problem, with many nonprofits struggling to get their email appeals into inboxes. In their 2018 year-end analysis , they found that nonprofits who saw their list size drop year-over-year (because they actively managed their lists, dropping the unengaged) also saw better returns: a 26% improvement in response rate and a 2% improvement in email revenue. Email deliverability and engagement are like the climate change of nonprofit communications. Half of the people are unaware or in denial about it and the other half aren’t sure what to do or if their actions will make a difference. Kivi Leroux Miller, Nonprofit Marketing Guide. It’s time (actually it’s past time, right now, in early 2020) to evaluate where you are and what you need to do. If you are already experiencing problems, you can repair the damage. But it takes a lot of time, energy and work to do so (more than managing for engagement in the first place). and the results aren’t guaranteed. And for anyone thinking that just switching to another email provider will solve your problems: think again. The heart of the problem is your list and how you manage it. Transferring bad habits to a new email provider won’t work. Nonprofits Largely Ignoring Email List Management Best Practices. A basic tenet of email engagement and deliverability is to only mail people who demonstrate that they want your content by continuing to open it. It doesn’t take much to be considered “engaged.” While there isn’t a hard and fast rule at this time, most email service providers consider a subscriber engaged if they have opened at least one email in the last 3-6 months. When a subscriber has stopped opening emails after a designated amount of time, you should send them a re-engagement series of emails to try to get them to open an email again. If they still don’t open an email, you should stop emailing them (or at a minimum, limit the number of emails you send in the future.). We found very few nonprofits have adopted these best practices. A little over half of nonprofits are implementing email re-engagement campaigns, although they are often waiting too long to do them. We found that 12% of nonprofits consider someone unengaged at three months or less and therefore ready for a re-engagement campaign. Another 15% set this mark at six months, and 27% set it at 12 months. The remaining 46% of nonprofits surveyed do not send email re-engagement campaigns. Nonprofits Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop Emailing. Unfortunately, even some nonprofits who are running re-engagement campaigns stop there and fail to scale back or stop emailing unengaged subscribers. A whopping 77% of nonprofits say that they never cut back the number of emails they send to unengaged subscribers, with 69% saying they never stop emailing, even if the subscriber is clearly no longer engaged. This is incredibly dangerous behavior, thus our apocalyptic warnings. Some nonprofits are trying, of course. But their standards for when to slow or stop emailing are far outside the email industry benchmark of three-six months. Only 4% of nonprofits cut back sending after three months of no engagement, with another 5% cutting back at six months of no engagement. Another 13% cut back at somewhere between one to three years. Removing someone from the mailing list entirely is even harder for nonprofits to implement relatively quickly. Just 4% of nonprofits said they would stop emailing someone entirely if they hadn’t engaged in six months. Eleven percent of nonprofits are using the 12-month mark, with another 16% stopping email at some point between 18 months and 3 years. This is serious. You must stop emailing people who never open your emails. Otherwise, you have no one to blame but yourself for causing your nonprofit’s email apocalypse. . Email List Management Nonprofit Email Marketing

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Here’s what I learned about leadership in 2019. I hope it helps you!


Leadership is NOT about ‘managing’ people, bossing them around, or being a tyrant and it ISN’T about showing people how great YOU are either. Instead, it’s about helping coachable people that have passion and character become great.

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11 Strategic Ways to Grow Your Nonprofit Social Media Followers This Year

J Campbell Social Marketing

Nonprofits use social media platforms every single day to connect with constituents , raise awareness for causes, and collect donations.

Donor Relationships: 5 Challenges and How to Overcome Them

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by Steven Shattuck. Donor relationship development is vital for your nonprofit’s retention rate and revenue consistency. Overcome the challenges of relationship building.

[Guest Post] Expanding Your Money Mindset

Fundraising Coach

Changing the way you think about money is a vital key to becoming successful at fundraising. In this guest post, Andrea Waltz points out an important area for us to address. Andrea is the author of "Go for No!

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Simultaneous Strategic Planning and Branding with Sterne School

Mission Minded

If your organization is considering undertaking both strategic planning and branding work, you might consider tackling both simultaneously. Doing this. The post Simultaneous Strategic Planning and Branding with Sterne School appeared first on Mission Minded.

How to Write a Collaborative Communications Strategy

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

When Cathy White shared with our Mentoring Program participants the collaborative process she went through to create her communications strategy, I knew other communications directors would be interested in hearing about it too. Cathy White. Guest Post by Cathy White.

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Addressing negative online comments about your nonprofit – something that every single nonprofit social media manager has had to deal with at one point or another. .

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How Monthly Giving is a Win-Win for Your Nonprofit

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A few weeks ago I wrote about ways to help you become more successful in 2020. One of those was to emphasize monthly giving. I’d like to elaborate on that some more in this post. Monthly giving is a win-win for your nonprofit. You can raise more money and boost your retention rate.

Create a system for expressing gratitude

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Do you have a system for expressing gratitude? For telling your nonprofit's donors how grateful you are for their support? In my weekly coaching email , Fundraising Kick , we've been looking at systems we use in fundraising.

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Does Your Logo and Visual Identity Send the Right Signals?

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Contrary to common misconception, your logo is not your brand. It’s a powerful symbol for your brand. Think of your. The post Does Your Logo and Visual Identity Send the Right Signals? appeared first on Mission Minded. Blog Nonprofit Branding Nonprofit Design

No Wonder Defining Comms Success is So Hard!

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

I am deep into the data analysis for the 2020 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report , which we’ll release next week. For the first time ever, we surveyed nonprofit communications staff on objectives for their work. We asked them to pick their top 3 of 12 choices.

Donor-advised Funds Are Misunderstood, Bound to Be Regulated, and Not Going Anywhere


“Have you read this one?”. “Zach, hold on I didn’t even finish the other articles you sent me yet.” ” I guess I was being a bit overwhelming. Okay, yeah, I’m sorry. It’s just there is SO much out there on DAFs right now. It’s hard to keep up.”.

5 Habits of Successful Nonprofit Social Media Managers in 2020

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Looking at the New Year with 20/20 Vision

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5 Ways to Keep Motivation After the Year-End Giving Season

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There’s no denying that year-end giving is a powerful force. After all, some reports suggest as much as one-third of all annual giving occurs in December alone! However, once the final numbers are calculated and the year-end campaigns end, what happens then?

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Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

When we were helping Jen Newmeyer brainstorm the title for her new book, as soon as one of us said, “ The Insider’s Guide to Online Fundraising: Finding Success When Surrounded by Skeptics, ” we knew we had it.

How to Prepare Your Nonprofit for a PR Crisis

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

Flickr Creative Commons photo by fotologic. Sometimes, bad things happen to good organizations. Because of this, even the best-run nonprofits need to have a crisis communications plan.

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This Thank You Email Gave Me the Warm and Fuzzies

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

One day last month, I may or may not have been avoiding work and was down one of those Wikipedia rabbit holes I so often find myself.

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Download Your 2020 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

It’s here ! The 2020 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report has both good news and bad news to share, compiled from the answers of 625 nonprofit communications professionals who took our annual survey in November 2019. It’s free to download.

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The Difference Between Content Marketing and Permission-Based Marketing

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

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Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

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What Do You Want to Read About in 2020?

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

Last week, we revealed our Top Ten Blog Posts of 2019. Annual reports, social media, and email did well as usual. Now, we want to know what we should focus on in 2020?

Starting 2020 Off Right: Save $200 on Your Training Pass, Get Communications Planning Tips, the Trends Report and More

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

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Mixed Links for Nonprofit Communicators – January 17, 2020

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

Penrose. Oakland, CA. Happy Friday, y’all! Let’s wrap up the week with the best articles, posts, tips, and more from around the world of nonprofit marketing and fundraising. We have Jedi Masters, social media trends, video ideas and more. It’s time for Mixed Links….

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Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

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Mixed Links for Nonprofit Communicators – 2020 Predictions and Trends Edition

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

Happy Friday and Happy New Year! Instead of gathering the best articles, posts, tips, and more from around the world of nonprofit marketing and fundraising this week, I have put together a list of stats, trends, and predictions that will help you in the coming year. It’s time for Mixed Links… .

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Newsletter: Join Me for a February Meetup in Tampa ; Nothing Can Stop Cause Marketing in Holland ; Does Your Nonprofit Really Need a Gala?

Selfish Giving

I'm super excited to be joining the Southeast Produce Council and its 2,500 members at Southern Exposure , their annual conference next month in Tampa, Florida. What a great time to escape the cold of Boston's winter! ??????

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Selfish Giving

Thanks for the great start to 2020. After taking two weeks off, I was wondering if you folks would remember me. You did!?? Open Rate is the percentage of people who opened my newsletter. Most newsletters are lucky to get 15 to 20%! My highest open rate last year was almost 60%.

Mixed Links for Nonprofit Communicators – January 10, 2020

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

The Little Duck Diner. Savannah, GA. We made it through the first full week of 2020! How’s everyone doing so far? Let’s wind it down with the best articles, posts, tips, and more from around the world of nonprofit marketing and fundraising. It’s time for Mixed Links….

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Happy New Year! Paris was great, and I was surprised that I actually enjoyed not publishing my newsletter.?? But it's time to get back to work! To kick-off the new year, let's take one last look back at 2019. Here are the top ten most-clicked posts from my 2019 newsletters. Enjoy!