Ashley Prior, Digital Marketing Manager

QUICK SHOT: 2024 Nonprofit Email Deliverability Guide

5 tips to go from spam to inbox success!

Picture this: you’ve painstakingly crafted the perfect email fundraising campaign. Your subject line sparkles, your content is filled with valuable insights and your call-to-action is clear. With eager anticipation, you hit send, expecting your message to reach its intended destination – the coveted inbox.

But alas… no responses. It seems your email has been cast adrift in the vast expanse of the digital sea, lost to the spam folders. What went wrong? My guess: your nonprofit organization is not following best practices when it comes to email deliverability. 

With the right tools and knowledge, you can navigate the wasteland of spam filters and authentication protocols to reclaim your email’s rightful place in the inbox. Read on for 5 key aspects of email deliverability.

1. Sustaining Sender Reputation

Sustaining a good sender reputation is the most important aspect, and often the most difficult, to ensure high email deliverability. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and email service providers (ESPs) are increasingly using sophisticated algorithms to filter out spam and unwanted emails. 

To improve your deliverability, it’s essential to follow best practices such as obtaining permission from recipients; sending relevant and engaging content; and regularly cleaning your email list. Additionally, if you are sending bulk email (one email to 50 or more recipients), be sure to use the same ESP and sender domain. Whenever sending bulk email, it’s important to include unsubscribe information, something that can only be done through your main ESP!

2. Maintaining Authentication Protocols

Another important factor in email deliverability is understanding the role of authentication protocols. Implementing protocols like SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) can help establish your email’s authenticity and increase the chances of it reaching the recipient’s inbox. To learn more about how to put these protocols in place, check out this Quick Shot article. 

Once your protocols are set up, it’s important to regularly check that no updates have been made to remove your SPF, DKIM and DMARC records. At BDI, we partner with Delivra, an ESP that checks against every email to see if your authentication protocols are properly in place. If your ESP does not support regular checks to ensure your protocols are up to date, we recommend regularly using a free site like MxToolbox or EmailStuff to regularly verify your records.

3. Optimizing Email Content for Deliverability

Optimizing your email content is also essential for improving deliverability and engaging your recipients. In 2024, several best practices can help you achieve better results with your email campaigns:

  • Focus on creating relevant and personalized content. Tailoring your emails to the recipient’s interests and preferences can increase open rates and decrease the likelihood of your emails being marked as spam. Segmenting your email list based on demographics, past interactions or past donations can help you deliver targeted content to specific audience segments.
  • Pay attention to your email’s subject line and preheader text. These elements play a crucial role in capturing the recipient’s attention and encouraging them to open your email. Avoid using spam-triggering words or misleading subject lines that can harm your deliverability.
  • Optimize your email design for different devices and email clients. Ensure your emails are mobile-friendly and that they render correctly across various platforms. A responsive design can improve the user experience and increase the chances of your emails being read and acted upon.
  • Regularly test and analyze your email campaigns. Monitor important metrics such as open rates, click-through rates and unsubscribe rates to identify areas for improvement. A data-driven approach can help you refine your email content and optimize your deliverability.

4. Monitoring and Analyzing Deliverability Metrics

Monitoring and analyzing email deliverability metrics is crucial for understanding the effectiveness of your email campaigns and looking for areas to improve! 

📥One important metric is the delivery rate, which measures the percentage of emails that successfully reach the recipient’s inbox. A low delivery rate may indicate issues with your sender reputation, authentication protocols or email content.

📬Open rate is another vital metric that measures the percentage of recipients who open your emails. A high open rate indicates that your subject lines and email content are engaging and compelling.

📲Click-through rate (CTR) measures the percentage of recipients who click on links within your emails. A high CTR indicates that your email content is driving engagement and prompting recipients to take action.

🎈Bounce rate measures the percentage of emails that were not delivered successfully. Bounces can be classified as hard bounces, which occur when an email is permanently undeliverable, or soft bounces, which occur when an email is temporarily undeliverable.

💔Unsubscribe rate measures the percentage of recipients who opt out of receiving further emails from you. A high unsubscribe rate may indicate that your email content or frequency is not meeting the recipients’ expectations.

By tracking these metrics, you can identify areas for improvement and optimize your email deliverability.

5. Leveraging Automation for Improved Deliverability

Automation allows you to streamline your email marketing processes, ensure timely delivery and personalize your messages at scale.

Here are just a few automation ideas we implement at BDI: 

  • Setting up triggered emails. These are automated emails that are sent in response to specific user actions or events. For example, you can set up a welcome email series for new donors welcoming them to your email communications!
  • Personalization is another key aspect of leveraging automation for improved email deliverability. By using data and segmentation, you can tailor your email content to specific audience segments, increasing relevance and engagement. Even something as simple as adding a first name can create a personalized connection to your donor. 
  • Scheduling email campaigns for optimal timing. By analyzing recipient behavior and engagement patterns, you can identify the best time to send your emails and maximize open and click-through rates. We do this at BDI for those clients in Delivra to optimize the campaign send time for when a recipient is most likely to open over a 24-hour time period!

I hope these 5 tips will help your email land right into the main inbox of your donors! If you have any questions about this article or want to learn more about how you can start applying these best practices to your email program, please email me at

Check out our last Quick Shot: “Boost Awareness with Strong Branding

  • Ashley Prior

    Ashley Prior, Digital Marketing Manager

    Prior to joining BDI, Ashley gained extensive digital marketing experience working at both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in marketing and entrepreneurship, she has served at charities nationwide, including the Alzheimer’s Association and several educational organizations. Her work has spanned everything from social media management to email marketing, event planning and public relations.

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