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Finding an email marketing service (EMS) for your nonprofit can be challenging. With so many options on the market, it can be difficult to tell whether a platform will be a good fit for your organization’s goals while also providing as much value for money as possible.
When you’re constantly trying to get the most out of each incoming dollar, time to examine all the choices yourself isn’t always a luxury you have. That’s why I’ve done the hard work of testing the top EMS providers on the market for you. Whether your goal is to encourage more (and bigger) donations, to update donors, or even to sell products, choosing the right EMS is crucial. So, grab a coffee and take a well-earned break as I take you through my top EMS providers for nonprofits.
I’ll explain why each offers great value for your funders’ money, as well as talking you through how it can help you bring in vital donations.
Short on Time? These are the Best Email Marketing Services for nonprofits in 2023
ActiveCampaign – Tons of advanced automation options to save you time, helping you to make the most of your donors’ money.
GetResponse– A great all-rounder with powerful A/B testing to help you optimize your donor campaigns.
Benchmark– Beginner-friendly email marketing, with a great free plan for smaller nonprofits.
What We Look For in the Best Email Marketing Services for Nonprofits
As a nonprofit, there are specific features you’ll need from an EMS – the right platform can both help save you time and to increase the donations that make your work possible.
That’s why I’ve only included EMS providers that offer the following features:
Discounts for nonprofits: Getting full, enterprise-grade EMS features at a discount helps you make every dollar count.
Plenty of email templates: Modern, dynamic email templates help you to update your supporters quickly and easily.
Automation workflows: Design complex, multi-step workflows to save time and help bring in more donations.
Detailed reporting: Understand whether your emails are effective and how they are helping your cause.
Free trials or free plans: Use these to fully test an EMS for yourself before committing donated funds to an untried service.
ActiveCampaign is a good choice if you want a service that’s easy to pick up without needing to spend hours figuring out how to use it – one of the many reasons it scored 4.8 out of 5 in our ActiveCampaign review. The interface is clean, simple, and easy to navigate. There’s also a ton of learning resources you can use if you get stuck, or if you want some help improving your emails to donors, customers, or other supporters.
ActiveCampaign’s best feature by far, though, is the automation builder. You can easily create a custom workflow or, if you’re short on time, choose from one of the 400+ automation templates
This helps you to build workflows like a welcome series introducing new subscribers to your work, to automatically add new donors to a “Donor” email list, or, if you sell products, to send coupons to frequent or monthly donors.
These automation tools are, by far, the most extensive of any EMS on this list. Few other EMS providers offer such complex automations outside of the most expensive plans – let alone hundreds of templates.
While ActiveCampaign offers a 14-day free trial of its Lite plan, this might not be long enough to determine whether it improves your donation rates, sales, or conversion rates.
Since this EMS doesn’t offer refunds, I’d recommend signing up for a monthly contract after your free trial ends. You’ll still get the 20% non-profit discount, but you’ll be able to leave at the end of the month instead of having to stick it out for a year if you decide ActiveCampaign isn’t for you.
Complex automation: ActiveCampaign’s automation builder is by far the most extensive of the EMS providers on this list, and it offers over 400 templates to make your life easier. That’s more than any on our list of the best email marketing services in 2023 too.
Conditional content display: Use this feature to determine what content your contacts see depending on their attributes, so you can easily build one email that’s automatically personalized for each contact.
Dedicated IP address: If you’re a larger nonprofit, you can make sure your emails always avoid your supporters’ spam filter by purchasing a dedicated IP.
125+ email and 50+ landing page templates: You don’t need to spend hours figuring out how to design modern and inviting emails and landing pages – just pick one of ActiveCampaign’s mobile-friendly designs.
I consider GetResponse one of the best email marketing services for nonprofits because of its intuitive drag-and-drop builders and clean interface. It’s a really easy platform to pick up.
But beyond just being easy to use, GetResponse is also a great choice if you’re ready to take your nonprofit’s email marketing to the next level. Something I particularly like is that this platform offers powerful A/B testing.
With A/B testing, you design two versions of an email to send to your chosen mailing list or contact “type” (such as major donors, non-donating supporters, or contacts who are new to your mailing list). A test group from that list is chosen and split in half, so each test contact gets either email A or B, and the rest are automatically sent the winning email.
GetResponse’s A/B testing tool helps you to save a ton of time on email optimization. While many EMS providers limit your testing to the subject line, GetResponse stands out because it allows you to test any aspect of your email, whether that’s your subject line, call-to-action buttons, or even your image choice.
GetResponse offers a generous 30% or 50% discount for nonprofits, provided that you’re not a political organization – to access the 50% discount, you just need to display the GetResponse logo on your website. You’ll also get free admission to its webinars with this discount, making it one of the best non-profit deals around.
Unfortunately, there is one downside to GetResponse – its analytics leave a lot to be desired. You only get very basic insights, like how many contacts opened your emails, clicked links, unsubscribed, or bounced.
If you need more detailed analytics to show that your email marketing brings more donations than you’re spending, you might want to use a different EMS, like Benchmark.
Benchmark offers geolocation and hourly insights, allowing you to see when and where your contacts are opening your emails. It’s a shame that GetResponse doesn’t offer this, particularly given the optimization potential they otherwise offer with their A/B testing feature.
A/B testing: GetResponse allows you to split test both subject lines and your email content, saving you a ton of time while you optimize your emails. It’s one of the things that gave it such a high score in our GetResponse review.
Highly personalized email builder: Customize your email content with information like your supporter’s name, email address, postal code, and more to help encourage ongoing donations.
Speedy customer support: With 24/7 live chat and a thorough knowledge base, you don’t have to be an expert in email marketing to get started – there’s always someone ready to help you out.
Generous nonprofit discount: To get the full 50% discount, you just need to display the GetResponse logo on your website. That’s an easy win!
If you’ve only got a limited budget to work with, then Benchmark is a great EMS to consider. Benchmark offers one of the best free forever plans around, with features like surveys, polls, and 20 templates available on the free tier. That’s a lot more than you get with Mailchimp’s free plan, for example.
Benchmark also offers a25% nonprofit discount on all of its paid plans. Admittedly it’s not the most generous discount we’ve seen, but 25% isn’t to be sniffed at.
The downside of the free plan is that you’re limited to 250 emails a month. That might be plenty if your nonprofit is still pretty small, or if you’re only looking to send updates to a small list of funders, but chances are you’ll quickly outgrow this limit.
It’s a shame because Benchmark’s free plan is otherwise pretty great. If you need a higher email limit but your budget can’t stretch to a paid plan, I recommend looking at Sendinblue’s free plan (more on that later in this list!), as it allows you to send 300 emails each day.
Benchmark is extremely user-friendly and simple to use – it scored 4.4 out of 5 in our Benchmark review – even when it comes to the more advanced features like A/B testing and complex segmentation that you get with the Pro plan.
If you get stuck, Benchmark offers a comprehensive knowledge base with videos and webinars to help you build everything from event invitations to your VIP donors to community update newsletters. Although they don’t advertise live chat or phone support as an option for free accounts, both are available through the help page on your account.
Detailed analytics: Each campaign has an easy-to-read overview of your analytics which makes reporting a breeze. If you need more detail, you can also see hourly engagement trends and geolocation data.
Full RTL (right-to-left) language support: If you work internationally, all of Benchmark’s templates work with RTL languages like Hebrew and Arabic, helping you to reach supporters around the globe.
Contact cleanup tool: Keep your list clean by removing contacts that never open your emails or have emails consistently bounce from their address.
Limited free plan: For small nonprofits with no budget to spare, Benchmark’s free plan gives you a limited number of free email sends each month to test the service.
Calling Sendinblue’s email marketing “foolproof” might sound like a strong claim, but hear me out – Sendinblue is one of the most beginner-friendly EMS providers on the market.
It has a clean, inviting interface that makes it easy to find what you’re looking for right away. If you get stuck, there’s an extensive knowledge base to help you.
Sendinblue also offers 65 modern, mobile-friendly, and highly customizable templates. Once you’ve chosen a template, the intuitive drag-and-drop editor allows you to preview how your email looks on desktop, tablet, or mobile. Tablets are often forgotten by EMS preview tools, so it’s great to see them included.
However, if you’re hoping to bag a discount on their paid plans, then I’ve got some bad news for you. Sendinblue only offers a 15% discount for nonprofits, and that’s only on its Enterprise plan. That rules this discount out for smaller organizations – only huge nonprofits sending hundreds of thousands of emails each month will need the Enterprise plan.
If you like the sound of Sendinblue, I recommend you use the free plan as much as possible to try it out to begin with, even if you know you want more advanced features like A/B testing or landing pages. Sendinblue has no money-back guarantee (except for technical errors), so you might as well make full use of the generous free offering before you commit.
65+ mobile-friendly templates: Sendinblue makes sure your emails catch your supporters’ attention as soon as they land in their inbox. You can even preview how your emails look on desktop, mobile, and tablet before you hit send.
Generous free plan: With up to 300 emails a day and no contact limit, nonprofits with no budget can still use email marketing to encourage donations and advertise events.
Conditional display: Personalize your emails by making sure your supporters get the content that’s most relevant to them – you can see just how you can personalize your emails on our Sendinblue video review.
Landing page custom domain support: Connect your Sendinblue landing pages to your official domain name so your donors can trust their information is in safe hands.
AWeber joined the world of email marketing at a time where we still said “www.” before the rest of the URL – and it’s still going strong today. While that means the interface, and some of the templates, look a bit dated, it’s still a great EMS with a lot to offer.
With AWeber’s custom segmentation, you can use sign-up forms with up to 25 additional fields to segment your contacts correctly. Plus, you can automatically apply tags based on where new contacts sign up to your email list.
However, my favorite part of this is that if you run a search for a certain contact type in AWeber – say, people called Jane from Kentucky who opened your emails in the second week of July – you can save that search as a custom segment. This can save you a ton of time if you’re considering building a very specific donor campaign. I’d recommend reading our AWeber review for a full, detailed breakdown of all of AWeber’s features.
The biggest downside of AWeber is that, to get the most out of it, you’ll need to pay for the Pro plan or above. The free plan doesn’t give you access to AWeber’s fantastic custom segmentation, which is a real shame.
AWeber offers three months of the Pro plan for free if you’re a certified non-profit. After that, you get 25% off your plan. While you do need to send in some paperwork to qualify for this, you effectively get an extended free trial so you can try this impressive custom segmentation out for yourself.
Unfortunately, getting a refund from AWeber can be difficult if you decide you don’t get on with this EMS, which isn’t ideal when you’re working with donor funds that need to be stretched as far as possible. Make sure you’re happy with the free plan before you upgrade.
Complex custom segmentation: Easily target your VIP donors, supporters in specific areas, or anyone based on how they interact with your emails.
Great non-profit discount: With three months free once they’ve verified you’re legit, you effectively get an extended free trial, and 25% off after that.
Decent free plan: With 3,000 email sends a month, AWeber’s free plan is great for small nonprofits or small community organizations.
RTL support: As long as you’ve got a keyboard for RTL languages like Hebrew and Arabic, you can use them with AWeber – fantastic if your organization is global or works with communities that use RTL languages.
Constant Contact offers a pretty decent service. The interface is super responsive and easy to navigate – just check out our Constant Contact video review to see what we mean – and there seems to be a lot of thought behind its offering. For example, if you reach your contact limit on your plan, you’re not automatically charged for the next tier, which is great for budgeting.
If you’ve got the budget to pay upfront, you can get 20% off a 6-month plan, or 30% off a 12-month plan as a nonprofit. If you’re happy with the service, paying upfront could easily save you hundreds if you’ve got a large email list.
Constant Contact also has one of the most user-friendly knowledge bases I’ve come across. All of the QuickStart guides are available to download as a PDF, which can save you a ton of time from having to navigate through the knowledge base to access a reference.
If you learn better with videos, there are also dozens of video guides to help you with everything from account administration to explaining your campaign analytics. There’s even a tab for you to read the latest product release notes, find new integrations, or stay up to date with new features.
Where Constant Contact falls down is with some of its features. A/B testing is limited to subject lines only, and you can’t create custom automation workflows.
If your nonprofit is relatively small, you might find that a welcome series, birthday emails, and anniversaries (of newsletter signups, not relationships) suffice. However, as your organization expands, you will likely need to consider utilizing more advanced tools beyond these.
Massive knowledge base: You don’t need to be an expert to get started, as Constant Contact offers downloadable PDF guides for using the EMS, email marketing techniques, and more.
Lengthy free trial: With up to two months to try out the service (if you’re in the US), you’ll have plenty of time to generate the data you need to acquire funding for your email marketing.
3,300+ integrations: Connect DonorPerfect to support your fundraising efforts, Shopify for e-commerce, or Zapier for almost everything else.
Event management tools: Whether you’re running a VIP donor event or a fundraising gala, you can use Constant Contact to keep track of guests, accept payments, run webinars, or send out event reminders.
Free trial or plan?
Free trial (60 days if you’re in the US, 30 days for the rest of the world)
Discount for nonprofits
20% off a 6-month prepaid plan, or 30% off a 12-month prepaid plan
Customer support channels
Live chat, email, phone, knowledge base, community forum
Fully loaded knowledge base with tons of learning resources
Mailchimp has been around for so long that I’m convinced most email marketers have used it at some point. Its free forever plan offers up to 2,000 contacts and 10,000 emails a month, which will probably cover most small nonprofits and local organizations.
If your non-profit has an e-commerce arm, Mailchimp has a free plan for that, too. This makes it easy to show that investing in email marketing and e-commerce is worth it without having to spend a single cent of your funding.
Mailchimp’s campaign analytics dashboard is one of my favorite features of the free plan. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still limited, particularly when you compare it to what’s available on Benchmark’s free plan. However, it’s super easy to read and understand, even if you’re completely new to email marketing. Check out our Mailchimp review to learn more.
You can see which of your subscribers interacted with your email the most, and even which countries offered the best open rates. There’s also a click map for a visual demonstration of how your users interact with links in your campaign.
This provides you with enough detail to kickstart your non-profit’s email marketing efforts, even though it may not be as comprehensive as what other EMS providers offer.
The biggest issue I have with Mailchimp is that once you outgrow the free plan, its paid plans are extremely expensive for what you get. The Premium plan is roughly comparable to the higher-tier EMS plans from Constant Contact and Active Campaign, but it’s easily twice as expensive.
Mailchimp only offers a 15% non-profit discount for nonprofits, which is tiny compared to other available discounts. It barely makes the paid plans worth it, particularly when you consider you can get a huge 50% off GetResponse’s plans, which offer far more features for your money.
While Mailchimp isn’t bad for small nonprofits and local organizations, or if you only need to send the odd donor update here and there, you’re better off with another EMS provider if you need a paid-for plan.
If you think you’ll need more than Mailchimp’s free plan offers, I recommend looking into ActiveCampaign or GetResponse for their automation and A/B testing tools respectively.
Simple analytics dashboard: Mailchimp’s analytics are easy to read and understand, which is perfect for new email marketers and to demonstrate the value of your campaigns.
Decent free plan: Mailchimp offers 10,000 emails per month and 2,000 contacts on the free plan, which will serve you well as your non-profit grows.
Intuitive drag-and-drop builder: You can easily get an email campaign or landing page up and running in 10 minutes once you get to grips with the builder – which won’t take long at all.
Email preview tool: Check how your email looks on a variety of mobile devices and platforms so you can fix any problems before you hit send.
If you’re a non-profit looking for an EMS with plenty of powerful features, I thoroughly recommend checking out ActiveCampaign. This provider offers the best suite of EMS features currently available, with a good range of tools like complex automation.
For those of you with limited budgets, take a look at GetResponse. It offers a 30% or 50% discount for nonprofits, which is the most generous discount I’ve seen from an EMS.
If you’ve got no budget at all, then I’d recommend Sendinblue’s free plan. You can send up to 300 emails a day and there’s no contact limit, so you’ll be able to use it for a long time before you need to upgrade.
Benchmark’s free plan is great if you want features like surveys and detailed analytics, but you’re limited to only 250 emails each month. If you’re happy to sacrifice some analytics detail, Sendinblue’s free plan lets you send 300 emails a day.
What should I look for in an EMS for a non-profit?
First, look for features that can save you time, such as automation workflows or template builders. Second, look at how much the plan costs (taking any discount for nonprofits into account) and compare this against other EMS providers. Because some providers offer a bigger discount, you might find that plans that are cheaper on the surface end up more expensive because they don’t offer a significant discount.
We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links. Advertising Disclosure
Emma is a freelance content writer who specializes in thoughtful and insightful blogs and articles. Her main passion is the intersection of human behavior and modern technology, particularly in the context of marketing and cybersecurity. Outside of work, Emma loves video games, superhero movies, crochet, and cuddling her German Shepherd.