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The Nonprofit Email Report: Data-Backed Insights for Better Engagement

Browse The Report

  1. Introduction
    1. A Note from Neon One
    2. Who’s Represented In This Report?
    3. Why Is Email So Important?
    4. Anatomy of an Email
  2. Nonprofit Email Deliverability & Engagement Benchmarks
    1. Introduction
    2. Nonprofit List Sizes
    3. Ask The Expert: Is List Segmentation Really That Important?
    4. Nonprofit Email Bounce Rates
    5. Nonprofit Email Open Rates
    6. Nonprofit Email Unsubscribe Rates
    7. Nonprofit Email Click-Through Rates
    8. Nonprofit Email Fundraising Performance
    9. Nonprofit Email Performance by Date & Time
    10. Email Sender Superlatives
  3. A Data-Driven Approach to Subject Lines & Preview Text
    1. Introduction
    2. Convey Positive Emotions in Subject Lines
    3. Ask the Expert: How Did You Use AI for Subject Line Sentiment Analysis?
    4. Words to Include (or Avoid) in Your Subject Lines
    5. Experiment with Emojis in Subject Lines
    6. Write Compelling Preview Text
    7. Words to Include (or Avoid) in Your Preview Text
    8. Put It All Together — Performance Benchmarks & Word Usage
  4. Creating Effective Emails
    1. Introduction
    2. Ask the Expert: What Should I Keep In Mind When Creating Compelling Emails?
    3. Tip #1 — Include Imagery in Your Emails
    4. Tip #2 — Pay Attention to Salutations
    5. Ask The Expert: Do Salutations Really Make a Difference?
    6. Tip #3 — Use the Word "You"
    7. Tip #4 — Make Your Message Scannable
    8. Ask The Expert: How Do I Create a Great Call to Action?
    9. Tip #5 — Include Great Calls to Action
    10. Put It All Together - Build Clear, Compelling Emails
  5. Lessons from the Most Engaging Email of 2022
    1. Introduction
    2. Top Engagement Email Dissection
    3. Go Build More Engaging Emails
  6. Data-Backed Insights for GivingTuesday and Year-End
    1. Introduction
    2. Who’s Included In This Data?
    3. GivingTuesday Fundraising Totals
    4. GivingTuesday Email Data
    5. End of Year Fundraising Totals
    6. End-of-Year Email Data
    7. Use These Data-Backed Best Practices to Nail Your GivingTuesday and Year-End Goals
    8. Now Get Out There And Write Some Emails
  7. Methodology & Appendix
    1. Methodology
    2. The Dataset
    3. Terminology and Definitions
    4. Metrics Definitions
    5. Analysis by Mission & Organization Income
    6. Analysis by Time & Date Sent
    7. Analysis by Content Sentiment
    8. Data Privacy & Security
  8. About Neon One
    1. Learn more about Neon One

Tip #2 — Pay Attention to Salutations

An illustrated icon of a personal contact card to symbolize a greetings or salutation
Humans love images. We also love hearing (and reading) our own names. A 2006 study by the Institute for the Study of Child Development found that hearing one’s own name resulted in a “unique brain activation” that mirrors the same way our brains respond to activities and thought patterns we associate with our core identity and personality markers. Our names are deeply tied to our sense of self.

That’s why including a personalized salutation in your email is so important. When you use an email recipient’s name in your salutation, you tell them that your email is meant for them, on a personal level. They may know rationally that your email was sent to many recipients, but the personalized opening makes it feel special. It works—another NextAfter experiment found that using a personalized salutation resulted in a 26% increase in click-through rates in a nonprofit email.

Your email service provider should give you the ability to use personalization tokens to insert your recipients’ names in your email salutations. You may also be able to add their name to your body copy, calls to actions, and even subject lines! Experiment with making your emails feel more personal by strategically using your readers’ names, then track how it impacts your performance metrics.

If your email service provider doesn’t allow personalization—or if you need to add a “fallback” salutation—use something that appeals to your readers’ identities. Opening an email with something like “Dear Animal Hero” or “Hello, Nature Lovers!” will stand out in a sea of “Dear Friends” salutations.

  1. Carmody DP, Lewis M. Brain activation when hearing one’s own and others’ names. Brain Res. 2006 Oct 20;1116(1):153-8. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2006.07.121. Epub 2006 Sep 7. PMID: 16959226; PMCID: PMC1647299.
  2. NextAfter. (2021). Does personalizing an email focusing on a premium resource increase clicks for pathway to victory? Experiments. Retrieved February 24, 2023, from