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​Spam and the Nonprofit

Each year EveryAction, an email marketing group, does an analysis of the ways that email deliverability can impact fundraising success. According to 2016 benchmark online giving data, every 1% of email marked as spam resulted in a revenue hit of more than 1%. This figure is one that nonprofits need to note.

There are three primary reasons why emails are diverted to spam or promotional folders. The first reason is that recipients are actively marking them as spam and the nonprofit becomes identified as a frequent sender of unwelcome email. The second is that emails are being deleted without being opened or read. The third is when a high percentage of emails sent receive no response from those that do read them.

On average, 18.21% of emails from the 55 nonprofits analyzed were marked as spam. The number was significantly higher in December as groups reached out for end-of-year gifts, with a spam rate of 30.25%. January saw the fewest spam designations at just 8.56%.

What causes such a high rate of emails to be considered spam? Nonprofits do not always make unsubscribing easy to request, so emails start hitting the trash folder unopened. Also, nonprofits often allow email lists to become outdated, or send emails that aren’t hitting the right audience.

NonProfit Quarterly gave a few suggestions for tackling the spam problem in “Study: Being Called Spam Threatens Nonprofit Fundraising.” Among their top tips were:

  • Require people to opt-in to email lists and to respond to a confirmation message;
  • Use testing to compare response rates to different subjects and content;
  • Make adjustments to reduce bounce rates; and
  • Regularly cull email lists.

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