03.13.23 3 min

The importance of deliverability for nonprofits

Lisa Greene

Lisa Greene

EVP, Data Axle Nonprofit

For years, the success of email marketing campaigns sent out by nonprofits has been measured by open rates, click through rates and how population segments respond to a call to action. While these metrics are still important, the data needed to assess how an email campaign performed based on these metrics is becoming increasingly more difficult to obtain thanks to new privacy protections many providers have in place. As a donor, we understand why privacy protections are put in place and can often see the value of such protections. But as a nonprofit leader tasked with marketing your impact and engagement opportunities to your supporters, it means taking the time to learn to look at deliverability more closely.

Deliverability, most simply put, is the ability for your email to land in your subscriber’s primary inbox. This may sound easy. You have your list of subscribers. You create an eye-catching email with an inspiring message and a witty subject line. You hit send and it lands in your subscriber’s inbox.

Or does it?

Similar to the age-old question, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, does it make a sound?”, how do you know that the email you pushed out into the ether is actually delivered on the other end? We don’t have the ability to look into the inboxes of others to see that it landed where intended. However, we can take steps to help increase the deliverability rate of our emails.

Many of us have folders set up in our email inboxes to help us sort the hundreds of email messages we get each day. We have our primary inbox; our spam folder; a folder for promotional emails; a folder for emails from our old college roommates. Whatever your inbox folder structure may be, it is rare that all emails sent to you get queued up in that sought after primary inbox. While we don’t have the ability to circumvent the custom filters that a recipient may have set up, we do have the ability to take steps to create email marketing campaigns that are less likely to fall into the dreaded spam folder and land in front of the eyes of the intended audience.

Our goal now needs to pivot from high open rates to high deliverability rates. How can a potential donor sign up to attend a tour of your new center if the email didn’t reach them? How will your renewal donors know that you are running a 24-hour crowdfunding campaign if they never saw that call to action? How will you sell out your much-anticipated Spring Gala if the invitations all landed in your constituents’ spam folders? The answer is, none of this happens if the email isn’t delivered.

The “2023 Nonprofit Email Deliverability Report” summarizes key findings of Data Axle’s research on the topic of deliverability, allowing us as nonprofit leaders to look more closely at various components of the emails we send – subject key words, activity on the IP address from which the email is sent, using clean lists and information from zero-party data – to make more informed decisions leading to higher deliverability as we create our next campaigns.

Download the full report and get in touch to discuss how you can better your deliverability rates.

2023 Nonprofit Email Deliverability Report

An analysis of real-world campaigns and their results

Get the report
Lisa Greene

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Written by Lisa Greene, EVP, Data Axle Nonprofit

Lisa leads a team of professionals supporting a wide array of partners and providing strategic insight to further missions.