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  • Connor Larsen

How to Build Successful Email Programs: Volunteer Engagement Edition

There’s one thing true of all volunteer programs: Signing up for a volunteer shift should be simple, and learning about volunteer opportunities should be even easier.

To create programs that depend on volunteer support, organizations need to think more strategically about communicating. Volunteer dependent organizations need to ensure that the correct audiences are receiving information that is relevant to them.

Successful digital communication programs are not made from one-size-fits-all solutions. Instead, we need to focus on individualizing communication for a variety of audience types, like donors, volunteers, and participants.

In this article, we aim to share the core pieces of successful email programs, especially for volunteer engagement. You’ll learn the key elements of excellent email programs, why volunteer-specific engagement is crucial, and how to allow your audiences to guide your content.

Basics of High-Quality Email Programs

Our team has run a variety of email marketing programs. We’ve facilitated programs in political fundraising and general nonprofit engagement, as well as nonprofit fundraising campaigns.

Over the years, it’s become clear that not all organizations are aware of email marketing best practices, or how to effectively implement the data-driven tactics they need. There are a few key practices we help organizations implement that we’ll highlight first:

  • Welcome Series: It’s crucial to introduce new subscribers to your organization, to ensure they understand your work and your impact. We have a formula for a successful welcome series that creates long-term engagement and increased donations.

  • List Segmentation: Creating a sign-up form and collecting data is only the first step of creating data-driven email marketing campaigns. You also need to create tags and categories for your subscribers, which will allow you to send only the most relevant information to their inboxes.

  • Content Strategy: Once you’ve welcomed your subscribers and created list segments, it’s time to evaluate your content. Ensure that you have streams of content for your different audiences to provide value and show you appreciate their support.

Volunteer Engagement Forms Connection

Have you experienced this before?

You sign up for a volunteer shift, only to realize that, actually, there’s an orientation you’ll need to attend and a background check you’ll need to pay for. And on top of that, you’re added to a general mailing list…where you receive all information about the organization, but not the volunteering you signed up for.

There are several parts of that scenario where the organization's communications strategy failed its volunteers. But by adjusting the digital elements, like adding clarity to the sign-up form and segmenting email lists, volunteers will feel guided. They will show up for their volunteer shifts — and then they will sign up for more.

When you intentionally communicate with your volunteers, you’re doing more than transacting with them. You’re building a community that will thrive for years.

Allow Audience to Guide Content

Ultimately, your community is made up of many different kinds of supporters. Your Board members need more high-level information about strategic operations. Your donors need to see how their contribution impacts your work.

Your volunteers need to know how they can help, and they need to hear about how your group works.

These different groups of supporters contribute to your programs’ successes in dramatically different ways. So why would you send them all the same emails?

When you construct your email marketing programs, think strategically. Communicate intentionally, and you’ll no longer need to fear whether or not you’re sending too many emails. Remember: Not all information is for everybody.

Your volunteer engagement may make or break your program success. We hope you won’t leave it up to chance. Reach out to Sunrise Communication Strategy now to start intentionally reaching your community members.


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