Compelling Emails: A Visual Guide for Associations and Non-Profits


An inbox is a crowded place these days. Besides the general noise and deals, subscribers are inundated with asks of all kinds from brands.

Associations and Non-Profits have an even bigger task at gaining the subscriber’s attention and conversion, so a solid strategy coupled with high-performing creative is essential.

Compelling emails are important. Here are ten examples of Association and Non-Profit emails Email Designs that we love at iPost.

Take Action Email

Feeding America

In America, 1 in 9 people struggle with hunger. The Feeding America network is the nations’ largest domestic hunger-relief organization. When the Hunger Action Month arrived in our inbox, we immediately noticed their direct and very visual call-to-action in the email. The visual separation of each module, coupled with each CTA button’s unique copy, was a unique and appealing way to articulate to the subscriber what they do next.

Best Practices Tip
Simplicity in your calls to action and clear separation allows readers to look at them differently and pick the activity based on what they are comfortable with. The copy and imagery inside the message carried a humanized tone that tends to perform within the association/non-profit vertical. Any time you can avoid stock photography and show your brand via your photos, it builds credibility.

Take Action Email - Feeding America

Weekly Newsletter

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was founded over 58 years ago and focused on treating the most challenging childhood cancers and pediatric diseases at no cost to patients and families. Their weekly newsletter updates and educates subscribers on essential topics and inside happenings at St. Jude. The humanized copy of Rikuand the story-based approach to the rest of the newsletter are a new and compelling messaging strategy to engage each subscriber.

Best Practices Tip
Associations and non-profits have amazing stories to tell, and email is the perfect place to do it. Messaging strategies that center around kindness, empathy, realism, benevolence, and humanization of the copy can reap long-tail rewards. Subscribers need to see a different side of your organization, so it’s ok to show people the beauty rather than the business side.

Weekly Newsletter - St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Virtual Event Email

American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History has been in existence for over 151 years. It is one of the world’s largest natural history museums globally, with over 26 interconnected buildings that house over 45 permanent exhibit halls. Covid-19 has put tremendous financial pressure on many organizations, but the ingenuity behind this email is something that all companies should embrace.

Best Practices Tip
Aligning the value proposition of your organization, both internally and externally, is critical to achieving relevancy. While all companies struggle during the pandemic, offering value to people over your primary value proposition of getting donations is essential to maintain trust. Offering an equal value exchange like this email from AMNH gives greater context to your brand promise, which might increase the likelihood of larger donations and sharing.

Virtual Event Email - American Museum of Natural History

Survey Follow-Up

World Wildlife Fund

Founded in 1961, the World Wildlife Fund works in wilderness preservation and the reduction of human impact on the environment. At iPost and in our email accounts, our inboxes are flooded with survey requests and reminders. This email is a great way to remind people via personalization that we are not accustomed to it. The email has a great set-up and personalized way of asking a favor rather than the clinical/impersonal way most survey reminders tend to be.

Best Practices Tip
Surveys are a great way to learn about your subscriber audience, and people often love to give their opinion. Survey and survey reminder emails should explain the purpose of what you are looking to achieve in a way where everyone understands the impact of having a voice. While some surveys give incentives, many non-profit or associations do not have the budget to do so. This makes the email and the message all that more important. Create survey messages with the subscriber in mind and speak with them rather than test variants for greater engagement.

Survey Follow-Up - World Wildlife Fund

Subscriber Involvement –Voting Email


ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) was established in 1866 and was the first in North America. They are privately funded and have over 2 million supporters across the country.
When this email landed in our inbox asking us to vote on the calendar cover image, we couldn’t help but think that this method to involve your subscriber base was brilliant. The vote count progress bars are a nice touch to show participation while encouraging recipients to engage.

Best Practices Tip
User-generated content (UGC) and UGC promotion is a great way to keep your subscriber base engaged in a fun and interactive way. Having the progress bars encourages users in a non-guilting way to participate and share the email and its content with others. Subscribers want to feel more connection and involvement beyond contributions to brands these days, so asking them to participate in something is an excellent way to feel as if their voice is heard. The humanization of content is extremely important in the long term success of programs like this one.

Subscriber Involvement – Voting Email ASPCA

Donation Email

Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association was founded in 1980 to unite caregivers and provide support to those facing Alzheimer’s and advance research into the disease. Associations rely on generous donations, and email marketing is a great way to reach out and show people the value that donations bring to the organizations. This email is timely and highlights the importance of donating because of the generosity of the matching gift. The visual impact of each donation is compelling and gives the recipient the impression of genuinely making a difference.

Best Practices Tip
People do read emails, especially if there is an emotional tie to the call-to-action. It would be best if you never were hesitant to use the copy as a way to draw attention to something as impactful as asking for donations. People are visual, so illustrating the impact that a donation has is powerful and compelling in the CTA buttons. Lastly, being realistic with donation amounts and transparency around the primary CTA matching aspect increases authenticity.

Donation Email - Alzheimer’s Association

Personalization Email

International Rescue Committee

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is a global humanitarian aid, relief, and development nongovernmental organization. Founded in 1933, the IRC provides emergency aid and long-term assistance to refugees and those displaced by war, persecution, or natural disasters. The email we received has first name personalization not only in the greeting but throughout the email. While subtle in nature, emails that can read like personal letters, rather than a mass email will encourage recipients to engage longer and participate in the calls-to-action.

Best Practices Tip
Personalization in any form and at any scale should be used inside your email program assuming that you understand the levels of effort and long term return. Use the data you have to enrich your organization’s experience, but always know that each subscriber has their limit. The use of analytics and insights to determine personalization success is as equally important as to the data you have on each subscriber.

Personalization Email - International Rescue Committee

Icons vs. Images

American Stroke Association

The American Stroke Association was founded in 1998 as a division of the American Heart Association. Stroke is the number 2 cause of death worldwide; the American Stroke Association teams with millions of volunteers to prevent, treat, and beat stroke by funding research and more robust public health policies. This email highlights the effective use of icons over imagery to impact and draw the reader’s attention to the powerful copy. The copy on the call-to-action buttons is unique and complements the central message of each section.

Best Practices Tip
The use of icons over images can profoundly impact engagement in the email, which can be especially true if organizations consistently use stock photography. Associations and non-profits need to experiment, making a point without showing imagery, mostly when the icon can easily parallel the message. The use of icons also allows those that design your email to use their creative freedom and talents to showcase the brand via modern badging.

Icons vs. Images - American Stroke Association

Humanization & Education

The UN Refugee Agency

Since 1950, The UN Refugee Agency, a global organization, has been dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights, and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities, and stateless people.
The email that you see combines education and humanization around the organization’s mission and integrity. This email tells a story and adds the element of connectedness to the cause they serve.

Best Practices Tip
Authenticity and humanization in email marketing are hard to come by these days. In 2021 and beyond, be prepared to share your organization’s side that has never been shown in the past because the subscriber craves legitimacy in their inbox. The ability to blend education with storytelling and genuineness inside your email will only increase your downstream engagement chances.

Humanization & Education - The UN Refugee Agency

Welcome Email

American Red Cross

In 1881, the American Red Cross was formed to help provide emergency assistance, disaster relief, and disaster preparedness education. The first email is often the most critical because of the high engagement rates and its influence on the program in the future. This welcome email has a perfect blend of information and authenticity about the American Red Cross and its mission.

Best Practices Tip
Welcome emails should set the tone, educate, genuinely welcome, and create the expectations on what is to come. Organizations with a lot to convey can split the email into a series, but the first touch has to count. Invest your resources to ensure that this first touch is consistently being optimized year after year.

Welcome Email - American Red Cross

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