How To Increase Nonprofit Email Marketing Engagement

Discover 2019 benchmarks for nonprofit email marketing, how to craft better emails, and optimize your email marketing campaigns.


[This is a guest post from our friends over at CampaignMonitor]

When thinking about how to improve their email marketing engagement, nonprofit marketers look at their email metrics. They analyze a wide range of data to determine opportunities for improvement.

This is a proven strategy. After all, analytics is—and will always be—crucial nonprofit email marketing and email marketing as a whole.

That being said, marketing is often about thinking outside the box. As a nonprofit marketer, you should always seize your opportunity to use new ideas and techniques. And improving email marketing engagement is no exception.

In addition to analytics, there are other ways for you to improve your email marketing metrics.

Enter nonprofit email marketing benchmarks.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to nonprofit email marketing benchmarks for 2019 and how you can take advantage of this data to increase your email marketing engagement.

Nonprofit email marketing benchmarks

Earlier this year, Campaign Monitor released an email marketing benchmarks guide, which compiled billions of emails sent through their email platform. We then analyzed the data and published the results under one comprehensive report.

Nearly two dozen industries are represented in the resource—one of which is the nonprofit industry. Here is a summary of the findings on nonprofit email marketing benchmarks.

  • Average email open rate

This is the percentage (out of the total number) of subscribers who opened your email. 

The average email open rate for nonprofits is 20.39%. Nonprofits have the highest open rate out of all the industries included in the report.

  • Average email click-through rate (CTR)

This is the percentage of subscribers who clicked on a link within your email out of all the emails you sent.

The average email CTR for nonprofits is 2.66%.

  • Average email click-to-open

This is the percentage of subscribers who opened an email and then proceeded to click on a link within that email.

The average click-to-open rate for nonprofits is 12.99%.

  • Average email unsubscribe rate

This is the percentage of subscribers who opt out of receiving any more emails.

The average unsubscribe rate for nonprofits is just 0.17%.

Increase your nonprofit email engagement

Now that you’re up-to-date on current email marketing benchmarks, here are the things you need to do to increase your email marketing engagement metric by metric.

  • Open rate

According to email marketing benchmarks, nonprofits have the highest open rate out of all other industries. However, this doesn’t mean that you no longer have room for improvement.

Here are some tips on how you can use to further increase your open rate.

Try new copywriting techniques in your subject lines. If you are trying to appeal to your subscribers’ generosity for a cause that needs immediate action, your subject line can be something like “John, there is an urgent need for blood. Will you help us?”.


Source: Campaign Monitor   

    • Always personalize your emails by including your subscribers’ first names.
    • Optimize your preheader to effectively summarize the content of your email.
  • Click-through rate (CTR)

The CTR of nonprofits is on par with the benchmark for all industries, which sits at 2.69%. Ways to improve your CTR include:

    • CTR involves your CTA, so it only makes sense to optimize this element of your email. You can improve your CTA by creating a better CTA design. Use contrasting colors and bold text so that the CTA contrasts (and therefore becomes much more visible) with the rest of the email.


Source: Campaign Monitor

    • Create stronger segments so that you can send the most relevant content possible to each of your subscriber segments. One way to achieve this is to send a survey email to your subscribers regarding their email preferences. You can ask subscribers what type of emails they’d like to receive from you, what day they would like to receive emails (weekday vs weekend), and how often they’d like to receive these emails (daily, weekly, bi-weekly, etc.)
    • To avoid creating any confusion for your subscribers, be sure to maintain the same branding and tone of voice throughout all of your emails.
  • Click-to-open rate

A high click-to-open rate is a strong indication that your email campaign was a success. Since it’s measured using only subscribers who opened your email, you can determine how many of your subscribers acted because of your email content.

Here are a few ways to increase your click-to-open rate:

    • Design your emails to render perfectly on both desktop and mobile devices. This makes it easy for subscribers to click on the links and CTAs no matter what device they’re using.
    • Optimize your copy and design so that your emails inspire subscribers to take your desired action, whether it’s to make a donation, volunteer, or attend a fundraising event.
    • Automate your emails to ensure that subscribers receive your messages at the perfect time.
  • Unsubscribe rate

With an unsubscribe rate of just 0.17%, it’s safe to say that nonprofits don’t experience a significant amount of unsubscribes. Here’s what you can do to keep your unsubscribe rate at a similar (or even lower) rate:

  • Maintain email list health from the start. Keep in mind that it’s better to have a smaller list of engaged subscribers than a huge list of inactive subscribers.
    • Use the confirmed opt-in. This way, you can verify subscribers’ email addresses and ensure that they are legitimately interested in joining your list.
    • You can attempt to re-engage inactive subscribers, but don’t spend too much time doing so. If they don’t respond to re-engagement methods, don’t hesitate to remove them from your list.

Wrap up

Analytics will always play an important role in your email marketing. But in order to take your email marketing to the next level, you’ll need to study those analytics to determine the steps you can take to improve your engagement.

By understanding current email benchmarks, you can see how your emails stack up against other organizations. From there, you can take the necessary steps to improve your email marketing engagement metrics.

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