Jessica Lorenz

Email Marketing for Nonprofits: Communicating value proposition

June 26th, 2015

We generally think of only companies or campaigns having value propositions. For nonprofit companies, communicating the value proposition effectively is necessary for survival.

There is a value prop behind every action, including each email sent — why should people read your entire email or click through to a landing page? In the case of nonprofits, it seems this challenge is stronger, with no promise of a product at the end of the cycle.

This value proposition of action for email marketing answers the question behind why customers should take a specific action when they get your email — click.

Once people land on your page, that’s when you give them the reason to take action.

At Web Optimization Summit 2014, Tim Kachuriack, Chief Innovation and Optimization Officer, NextAfter, shared his experiences of working with nonprofits on email and landing page designs.

He explained that he was inspired at a MarketingSherpa conference a few years prior, when his page was selected for live optimization and critiqued in front of the entire MarketingSherpa audience.

Although confident that the page could more effectively communicate his value proposition, he mentioned his reservations when asking to test this page for the first time, saying,

“You guys helped me create this ugly, Frankenstein-looking version of the landing page,” Tim said. “It took much convincing and pleading, and many adult beverages. I convinced my client to actually let us,  in fact, test this.”

It resulted in a 274% increase in revenue for the nonprofit.

“We did things we should never do — broke every best practice rule in the book,” said Tim, reflecting on the design of the page which was loaded with text and very few images.

However, reinforcing the value proposition of the cause that the donor was supporting took precedent over a sleek page design. To best serve both the charity and the donors, the marketing department needed to communicate the reason that the nonprofit existed and why it needed support, regardless of the number of words.

In fact, Tim said, “The biggest thing we took away from this thing is the one advantage that us nonprofits have over for-profits and it’s the simple fact that we don’t have a price.”

The clearer the message behind the value proposition and the transparency of the urgency in the donation can make a huge impact on the overall success of a campaign.

“When we communicate that value proposition, with such tremendous force … not only do people say ‘yes,’ they say, ‘heck yes,’ and they give at a much higher level,” Tim said.

Watch the entire three-minute excerpt below to learn how you can add value to your page in order to drive donations to support your cause.


You can follow Jessica Lorenz, Event Content Manager, MECLABS Institute, on Twitter @JessicaPLorenz.


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Categories: Consumer Marketing, Marketing Tags: , , , , ,

  1. July 8th, 2015 at 01:55 | #1

    Great article, Jessica!
    It seems to us that nonprofits are so afraid of looking too “business-like”, that they create messages and landing pages stocked with lots and lots of text. But in fact, they can get inspired by a lot of businesses and their communication style.
    Making clear what you’re all about in just a couple of seconds should be applied to every email, whether they are from a business or a nonprofit.

  2. Jessica Lorenz
    Jessica Lorenz
    July 13th, 2015 at 12:34 | #2

    Thanks, Michelle! I agree with you – especially with email marketing, the list has already opt-ed in to hear from the nonprofit so hopefully they are aligned with their overall mission and goals. It’s really about creating urgency and messaging that communicates the need. Much like businesses are trying to get people to buy a specific product, not necessarily their overall value proposition when customers/prospects open their emails.

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