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5 Important Emails to Send During a Crisis

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As mentioned previously in our post about fundraising during a crisis, transparent and honest communication with donors is imperative during a time of crisis or financial uncertainty. Email marketing is one mechanism by which you can continue to communicate in a safe and efficient way.

There are some tactical things to consider when communicating with your donors. This post will focus on five scenarios in which your organization can use email marketing to effectively engage with your donors. I have chosen to highlight some examples using regional nonprofits and how they are using email.

1) Just Saying Thank You

It is always important , but especially in times like these, to make sure donors are being appreciated and thanked. We are all pretty good about thanking our donors after donations, but now is a time to reach out and thank them for their continued and past support of your mission.  

A small nonprofit based in Fargo, Adapt Music, has taken the time to send a simple thank you email to their donors (full disclosure – Adapt Music was founded by Bridgette Bitzegaio, who happens to be my wife). This has a couple of simple updates, but really focuses on thanking their donors for continued support. This is not an ask or appeal, just a simple thank you.

2) Programming or Service Changes

Almost all organizations are currently forced to make some adjustments or changes to their programming. Whether it is shifting to online programming, suspending certain programs, or being creative in how you provide your services, communication of these changes is important.

Celebrate how your organization has adapted to continue to serve and drive impact!

Grand Forks Senior Center serves seniors in the Grand Forks, North Dakota area. Obviously, seniors are some of the most impacted and vulnerable populations. Thus, Grand Forks Senior Center needed to adjust their onsite programming, while still providing care and services to the seniors in their area.  

Here is an example of the email they sent out to the seniors they serve outlining these changes.

3) Resources

Offering important resources to those you serve is a powerful way to use email to engage during a time of crisis.  

For example, Emerging Prairie provides support, guidance and education to the entrepreneurial community across the state of North Dakota. As you can imagine, many of those entrepreneurs are in a state of concern and are looking for good and reliable information about programs and services available to their small businesses.  

Emerging Prairie did a great job of curating relevant resources and emailing them to those they support.    

4) Event Changes

The reality of the current situation with Covid-19 is many events and galas are having to be canceled, postponed, or converted to virtual events. This a prime opportunity to touch base with your supporters through email to share these changes.

Harlynn’s Heart is a small organization that provides ongoing support for parents who have experienced loss in any stage of pregnancy or within the first year of life, and for those who have become pregnant or delivered after experiencing a pregnancy or infant loss.  

Covid-19 forced Harlynn’s Heart to make the difficult to decision to cancel their annual event for 2020. Here is an example of the email that was shared with supporters. This email was done with simple styling and in a personal way, which studies show can increase open rates.

5) Sharing Stories of Impact

If your organization is directly involved in serving those impacted by Covid-19, or even an indirect correlation, celebrate the impact you are having. I am seeing many nonprofits, whether directly involved in the fight against Covid-19 or not, are still serving people impacted indirectly.

Share your impact, whether direct or indirect because it matters and it is important. It highlights the importance of your mission on an ongoing basis and during the current crisis.

A national organization we support personally sent a good example. World Vision explained in this email how they were providing emergency meal kits to those in need. They explained clearly the impact a gift would provide, and why it is important.


A unique time like we are in now requires us to be considerate in how we communicate with supporters and those we serve. These five uses of email are examples to help you when determining how and when to engage with your donors.

Providing updates and resources, or simply saying thank you can be powerful communication opportunities leading to deeper, more meaningful engagement with your constituents.

Matt Bitzegaio
Written by
Matt Bitzegaio

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