Many nonprofits host an annual event as a fundraiser. From guest speakers, walks/runs, conferences, or silent auctions there are many types of events to help raise money. No matter what type of event you host, using email marketing is a smart tactic to get the word out. And, because sending an email invitation is easy and affordable, you won’t be cutting into the funds from your event.

In this post, we’ll share 5 tips on using email marketing to help your nonprofit pack the house for your next event.

1. Who’s invited

Before you send out any event invitations, you’ll need to know who you’re inviting to the event and why they should attend. Knowing your target audience will help you plan out your emails and what list or lists you’ll be using. Once you know who your audience is, you can segment your list (if needed) to make sure you’re including the right group of donors or attendees for your event.

Most nonprofit events rely heavily on volunteers to help everything run well. Create a volunteer segment and verify you not only invite donors but also get volunteer support as well. Understanding who needs to be at your event will make planning your event marketing strategy easier.

2. Send a save the date email

Your organization will put in a lot of time and effort planning a fundraising event. You want the people you invite to come and enjoy it and hopefully be more involved with your cause. To help get as many attendees as possible to your event you’ll want to give them a heads up when it’s going to happen by sending a Save the Date email. This likely will be the first time they hear about your event, so send an email with a compelling graphic, and most importantly the date, place and time of your event. That way those who are invited can make room for your event on their calendars. The sooner you can do this the better chance you have of people being free and able to attend. If you don’t have all the details yet, include as much as you can in this first save the date email and then send more information in the actual invitation email.

Amnesty International includes a clear date and venue in their event email.

3. Use personalization

By using data you already have about your attendees you can personalize your event emails. Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. In addition to the subject line, use a name in the body of your email to give your attendees a warm feeling about your organization. Personalization makes your email more relevant to your readers, so use any other information you may have collected over time. You can use an email sign up form to collect this type of information, or a CRM if you’re using it for your contact data. If you want to take personalization to the next level, try using dynamic images in your email so that different segments of your list see certain images.

4. Start inviting

While there are different ways to invite your attendees to your event, email is more effective for reaching your donors or volunteers. Drag and drop email templates make it super easy to create your invitation, and with 19.6% of event registrations coming from mobile devices, using a mobile friendly template is key.

As you start creating your email invitation, be sure to include all the key information your attendees will need to know, such as the date, time, location and cost. Keep the text to the point so that you’re not sending an email that’s too long, and make sure you outline the benefits of attending. Let your attendees know what great things they can expect if they come to your event, not just that it’s a fundraiser for your organization. And, if they need to register for your event use an easy to click call to action button so they can do it right away.

Send out one or two reminders to your attendees once they’ve signed up, depending on how far in the future your event is. Also send your volunteers any additional information they’ll need to work at your event, especially if it’s different from what your attendees need to know. And always include a donation call to action button in your email so if someone can’t attend they can easily make a donation to your cause.

5. After the event

Once you’ve sent your email invitations and wrapped up your successful event, you’re still not quite finished.

Send follow-up emails to thank everyone who attended your event, including donors, volunteers, and your staff. Many nonprofits host the same, or similar, event each year and sending a thank you can help ensure a high turnout in the future. Your attendees would also enjoy knowing how much your event raised and how their donations will help others, so include it in your follow-up email.


Wrap up

Planning for events takes time and can take months of preparation to pull off successfully. Make it easier for yourself and your organization by using email marketing to reach the people you need to attend your event. And once your event has finished, keep in touch with regular newsletters to let your donors know how much they make a difference. For more tips on email marketing for nonprofits check out The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Nonprofits.