nonprofit email marketing mistakes

5 Nonprofit Email Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Getting your nonprofit email marketing up and running can be both tricky and time consuming. In addition to a series of posts on email marketing for nonprofits, we’ve highlighted these 5 nonprofit email marketing mistakes we see many nonprofits making. Read on to prevent your emails from ending up in the junk folder.

1. Not Having Permission:

The number one worst mistake you can make when initiating an email marketing campaign on behalf of your organization is to send emails without permission. When you send an email to someone who didn’t ask to receive the email, it gets marked as SPAM. There’s no way around that. Messages sent to lists of people without permission will have lower key metrics, will get more complaints, and will possibly get you blacklisted. To avoid these pitfalls, you must avoid sending emails to people who haven’t opted into your list… period.

2. Buying or Renting an Email List:

Don’t make the mistake of buying or renting an email list; save your money and use it to build your list organically instead. If you are thinking about buying or renting a list, ask yourself, “how many times has this email marketing list been sold?” The answer to that question is many times over and over again. If there was any value in this list, it’s already been squeezed dry by the people who used it before you. Next, ask yourself, “have the people on this list ever heard of my organization?” Probably not. People are trained to view any unknown email senders as suspicious and to report them as such.  Even if the vendor tells you the list is “opted in,” the people on the list have doubtfully opted into your email list. Any reputable email service provider will require an opt-in list, which leads me to number 3:

3. Not Using an Email Service Provider:

Another email marketing mistake that nonprofits frequently make is not using an Email Service Provider (such as MailChimp) for their marketing emails. An ESP is a company dedicated to sending bulk marketing messages. There are many reasons that you need an ESP ranging from deliverability and automation to having professional looking templates and great compliance management. Any good ESP will also give you back vital key metrics for your nonprofit to take action on so that your next email is better.  There are plenty of ESP’s out there, and there is one for every budget, depending on how many emails you want to send and how sophisticated you want your nonprofit’s email marketing to be.

4. Sending from

If you are sending your email from a dontreply address you are essentially telling your supporters that you don’t actually care what they might have to say in return. Instead of telling your subscribers that you don’t want to hear from them, invite them to reply. We’ve seen others use things like or  Keep in mind that this only works if someone actually manages the replies that are coming in – so make sure that someone is checking that inbox.

5. Not Taking Mobile Email Rendering Into Consideration:

According to eMarketer, 14 minutes of every hour spent on mobile devices is spent on email versus just 4 on the desktop.  This means you must be testing your designs on mobile devices before sending them out.  It’s also worth considering if a responsive email design (one that renders differently on different devices) is right for you.

Avoid these 5 email marketing mistakes, and you’ll be on your way to the inboxes of people who want to hear from you and help your organization.

Need help finding an email service provider or building an email list for your nonprofit? Media Cause can help. Reach out to us and let us know what we can do for you.


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