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The Truth about Email Usage for Nonprofits

It seems painfully clear that nonprofit organizations should use email as a way to communicate to their donors, right? So what would you guess is the percentage that nonprofits primarily use email to communicate to their constituents? 75%? 50%? 20%? (Or if you are in the more optimistic crowd, 95%?)

The fact of the matter is that it’s tiny. Our own research suggests that only 10-20% of non profits track emails for their donors on any regular basis. Most non profits only use email for their core constituents – staff, board members, and volunteers. Donors are entirely a separate animal.

If I were to guess, the average email list for an average small nonprofit would be ~1000 for an active email organization (ones in the 10-20% category above).

The real problem facing nonprofits is actually not sending email, it’s collecting email addresses AND keeping them up to date. That’s hard and takes real effort – staff resources – which most people think would be better if directed to mission related activities (though one could certainly argue that collecting email addresses for communication purposes is VERY mission related).

What’s your experience? Does your non profit primarily use email to reach out to ALL of their constituents or just a fraction?

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