MailChimp for Nonprofits – Our Recommended Email Marketing Service

MailChimp for Nonprofits

Sending emails to your nonprofit’s mailing list is an important part of communicating with donors, volunteers, supporters and other constituents. If you’re just getting started with an email marketing service, or maybe considering a switch from your current provider, we recommend MailChimp for nonprofits. It’s a user-friendly platform with important functionality at an affordable price.

Build your email list with MailChimp using our website platform ›

There are other options out there that you may know of or currently use, like Constant Contact or Vertical Response. And if you’re still sending email campaigns using a personal email account, really anything is better than your current system. (Seriously, don’t do this.)

However, we’ve seen again and again that MailChimp allows our clients to produce professional and well-designed emails that produce results — from raising money to driving membership. So, while we don’t have any special arrangement with MailChimp to say any of this, we wanted to let you know why we think their services are a great choice for organizations of all sizes and budgets.

Our Criteria

We used the following criteria to land on MailChimp as the best email marketing service for nonprofits and charities:

  • Does it integrate with WordPress to easily collect website signups? Yes.
  • Does it give you actionable data and reports? Yes.
  • Can you make emails and add content without knowing code? Yes.
  • Does it cost extra to use modern and responsive designs? Nope.
  • Can you schedule emails to go out at a later time and date? You betcha.
  • Is there an extra fee for email automation, like a welcome series? Not anymore!
  • Can you set it up to send emails via RSS when you publish a new blog post? Yes.
  • What about A/B testing my content, images or subject lines? It’s included.
  • Is it easy to organize and keep your subscriber list clean? Yes.
  • Can you organize your list in different groups or segments? Yes, and you should!
  • Can you preview, test and get feedback from people before sending emails? Yes.
  • Is there a nonprofit discount? Yes, in addition to a free plan. See more below!
  • How’s the customer support? Not great for free users but lots of self-service resources.

 

Compare Email Marketing Platforms

Wondering how MailChimp compares to other options? Here’s what our research dug up.

 

MailChimp for Nonprofits

 

Like any new purchase for your nonprofit, we understand that cost is a driving factor in the decision process. (More on that next!) But don’t forget to consider the time and maintenance cost of selecting a service that isn’t quite right or doesn’t have the features and integrations you need right from the start. It really is possible to send email campaigns without endless spreadsheets, manual sorting and lots of headaches!

Rates and Nonprofit Discount

If you’re interested in free email marketing for nonprofits that looks and acts professional, MailChimp is a no-brainer. While there isn’t any chat or email support for this option, you can have a list of up to 2,000 subscribers and send 12,000 emails per month.

If you plan to send multiple emails within a short time, such as reminders about a time-sensitive fundraising campaign, keep in mind that the free plan puts a cap on your account so that you aren’t able to send more than 2,000 emails in a 24 hour period.

For organizations that want to send more emails to a larger list, you can use a monthly plan that charges you a rate based on your total number of subscribers. Paid plans also have some extra features like chat support (which we’ve found to be excellent) as well as custom forms.

With a list of 2,000-2,500 subscribers, the paid rate is $30/month BEFORE MailChimp nonprofit pricing. You can score 15% off your monthly bill just for being a nonprofit. There’s also a 10% discount when you make your account super secure with two-factor identification, which really just means that you’ll take an extra step in the login process.

MailChimp for Nonprofits

Being able to quickly and strategically send compelling emails to your subscribers is a crucial part of any communications plan. Using MailChimp for nonprofit email marketing gives you access to a wide range of options that can grow with you over time.

Have you made the switch to or from MailChimp at your nonprofit? Or are you stuck in the decision-making process? Please share your situation in the comments.

Katy Teson is one of Wired Impact’s content strategists and works with nonprofits to tell more people about what they do, why it matters and how to help. She spends her days writing, optimizing, organizing and distributing digital content (and secretly loves print projects, too).

21 Comments on “MailChimp for Nonprofits – Our Recommended Email Marketing Service

  1. 1 Sarah Dunn September 27, 2017

    I’d love to switch to MailChimp from IMODULES because of the great features you listed. Is there a way to connect MailChimp to our Banner donor database to ensure we’re collecting opt-out data each time we send an email from MailChimp?

    1. 2 David Hartstein October 3, 2017

      Thanks for the comment Sarah. Glad to hear you’re interested in making the switch to MailChimp. I’d recommend reaching out to MailChimp directly and asking about what sort of integration is possible. They’ll be able to help you out more than I can.

      You can reach out to MailChimp support here. I’d suggest clicking “Considering MailChimp” and then “Didn’t find what you need? Access our contact form.” From there, you should be able to reach out to their team.

      Hope that helps. And good luck!

  2. 3 Brad Tinnon September 28, 2017

    Great article Katy. We use Mail Chimp and love it!

    1. 4 Christine Soucy September 29, 2017

      Thanks, Brad! MailChimp is an awesome email service provider for nonprofits and for-profits alike. We’re happy to hear you’ve been enjoying it!

  3. 5 Tarnya at Kitchen Table Web Design October 5, 2017

    Another vote for Mailchimp from me. BTW if you have tried Mailchimp in the past and found it difficult to use, come back and give it another go. It has improved a huge amount in the last 5 years.

    1. 6 Katy Teson October 5, 2017

      Thanks for weighing in, Tarnya! It really has come along way in recent years, especially compared to other services that still use older interfaces.

  4. 7 Lisa Lackmanec December 14, 2017

    Hi Katy and David. I’m looking for an article (I believe it was on your site), that listed a few other email marketing programs. I can’t seem to find it – do you happen to recall it and can you share the link?

    Thanks,
    Lisa

    1. 8 Katy Teson December 14, 2017

      Hi Lisa – We’ve previously posted about how to pick an email service provider, but that post doesn’t offer additional comparisons for specific platforms.

      Are you looking for a specific functionality or integration ability? I briefly touched on services that offer automation/auto-scheduling in a recent post, but I know that there are a lot of things that factor in to this decision.

      Please let me know if there’s anything we can help answer for you.

  5. 9 Lisa December 20, 2017

    Hi Katy, thanks for getting back to me! We really liked MailChimp for our purposes (direct donation campaign). However, when people unsubscribed, we can’t add them back in to Mail Chimp – each individual has to opt back in (which is really hard to get them to do). So we’re looking for a similar email service system, with similar features, where we can start again with our complete mailing list.

    1. 10 Katy Teson December 20, 2017

      Hi Lisa – Thanks for explaining more of your needs. As you might know already, MailChimp and all of the major email marketing platforms out there have very similar processes for dealing with unsubscribes in order to comply with spam laws. Once someone unsubscribes themselves, the only way that they can be resubscribed is by signing up again through your opt-in form or a confirmation email.

      If you’re planning to start over by uploading a list to a new service that includes unsubscribes, you could run into trouble. According to CAN-SPAM Act, the request to unsubscribe applies forever unless the person resubscribes, no matter the service. Here’s a link to more information about this regulation. The “Am I Compliant?” section addresses your situation.

      I hope that helps – even though it’s probably not the answer you were looking for.

  6. 11 Lisa December 21, 2017

    Ahh, that is good information. Many thanks.
    Lisa

  7. 12 Pam February 9, 2018

    We only have a gmail email for our little nonprofit and Mailchimp will not let verify a gmail address. Any way to get around that or any other program let you use gmail?

    1. 13 Katy Teson February 11, 2018

      Hi Pam – I’m sorry that you’re having trouble with MailChimp’s verification policies when it comes to free email addresses. It doesn’t appear that there is a workaround for that issue as you need at least one verifiable address to get started (however, once you’re verified it looks like you could default back to your Gmail account with some limitations).

      Since you’re already using Gmail, I’d encourage to take a look at G-Suite for Nonprofits. It’s a free way to get your email set up with your website domain, if you own one.

  8. 14 Marjorie King March 11, 2018

    I am looking at email programs for non-profit organizations.
    Does Mail Chimp allow our email subscribers to update their own email addresses? Are they the only ones who can do that?
    I serve on a property owners association board. We need to control who can change people’s email addresses.
    Can subscribers sign themselves up? Ideally, we can publish the information and people will sign up without our staff having to help.
    What about Constant Contact?
    Thank you,
    Margie

    1. 15 Katy Teson March 11, 2018

      Hi Margie,

      Thanks for reaching out! MailChimp offers people the ability to sign up and change their personal information themselves through online forms: https://kb.mailchimp.com/lists/manage-contacts/update-a-subscriber-profile

      It appears that Constant Contact also takes a similar approach: https://knowledgebase.constantcontact.com/articles/KnowledgeBase/5778-update-profile-form

      For both options, it’s important to make sure that your sign up form is easily accessible (such as embedding it on your website) and simple to use, with only the fields you really need. I think that MailChimp makes this pretty easy with their form builder.

      Best of luck on your email search,
      Katy

  9. 16 William P Gloege April 10, 2018

    Hi Katy,
    I especially like your clear writing style! Unusual on an IT related site and very welcomed.

    I searched around on Mail Chimp for help for our non-profit using the system. I was disappointed to see most of the instruction was geared toward users selling a product for profit.

    That’s not us. We are devoted to environmental improvement, namely curbing what could be man’s final problem: global warming.

    We have a list of perhaps 400 persons interested in learning more about the non-carbon energy solution that must play a role in slowing earth warming – energy from the atom. France has used this solution successfully and safely since the 60’s. Their whole country runs on this energy, as does the whole U.S. Navy for all its major ships. The false fears spread by competing energy systems have not happened with those two users and many more.

    Where can our citizen expert Californians for Green Nuclear Power go for clear instructions how to use Mail Chimp? In Advance, thank you so much.
    William P Gloege, Santa Maria, CA

    1. 17 Katy Teson April 10, 2018

      Hello William,

      I’m glad that you found this post! We understand how hard it can be to find nonprofit-specific advice when it comes to marketing tools like email.

      That said, I’m afraid that the MailChimp website continues to be the best place to find a wide range of instructions and tips about their services. In part, this is because their information is always going to be the most up-to-date about how to use their product. Like any technology, the platform changes often, so it’s easy for online tutorials in other places to quickly become outdated.

      While there’s not a lot of information specific to nonprofits, were you looking at articles in their Support Knowledge Base? The writing is more technical, as you mentioned, but it gets easier to digest the more you understand their terminology. If you haven’t seen it already, the Get Started With MailChimp entry explains some of the basics. We often refer our clients using the free MailChimp plan to the Knowledge Base for step-by-step help.

      Would a video tutorial be a better way for you to learn? I found a beginner-level option on YouTube that seems up to date for 2018: How To Create a MailChimp Campaign.

      Lastly, if you are signed up to receive our Wired Impact emails, you’ll soon see another post from me about how to structure your email list in MailChimp. I’ll try my best to keep it clear and straightforward!

      Warm regards,
      Katy

  10. 18 Daniel April 17, 2018

    Hey Katy,

    found your article about automation (https://wiredimpact.com/blog/automated-emails-cultivate-new-supporters/) and then read this one as well.

    Wanted to add – maybe you or the readers will find it useful. You are comparing MailChimp with ConstantContact and VerticalResponse, which from what I heard all three are great platforms (personally I tried only MailChimp).

    However, I would suggest for you to look into MailerLite – if offers automation and all of the features you listed here (segmentation, RSS to email, A/B testing, mobile newsletters and so on) for free. It seems that the pricing offered is better even with MailChimps provided discount – https://www.mailerlite.com/mailchimp-alternative

    I am not sure if MailerLite provides an additional discount for non-profits but I imagine it can’t hurt and ask them for the better price. Tell me what you think!

    1. 19 Katy Teson April 17, 2018

      Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for your comment. I personally don’t have experience with MailerLite, but I’m glad you’ve offered another recommendation that seems cost effective for nonprofits. Although the cutoff for a free plan is 1,000 subscribers (versus 2,000 for MailChimp), MailerLite does offer unlimited emails in the free plan while MailChimp has the 12,000/month cap.

      Both platforms appear to offer nearly identical features, so I’d encourage nonprofits to evaluate which service works best for their needs in terms of usability, design style/ease of customization, support needs, and list management – in addition to price. For example, I was disappointed to learn that Constant Contact doesn’t allow proper segmentation for accounts over 10,000 subscribers, which just won’t work for larger organizations.

      If you’ve used it, what’s your experience like with MailerLite’s automation capabilities?

      I’ve reached out to MailerLite about a nonprofit discount and will comment again on what I learn if I hear back.

      Best wishes,
      Katy

  11. 20 Daniel April 18, 2018

    Hello Katy,

    Doesn’t seem to let me reply straight to your comment.

    Yeah, so if someone wants free version and has fewer subscribers but sends emails very often MailerLite’s free version might be better for that.

    I think MailerLite’s automation is perfect for beginners or for someone who doesn’t need super advanced automation capabilities – I found it very easy to set up and use, UI is simplistic. You can easily segment your users by actions they take and depending on that start different automation sequence.

    You can trigger the workflow when a subscriber joins a segment, anniversary of the date or exact match of the date, subscriber clicks a specific link or when certain information is updated about the subscriber. So the options to trigger the event are fairly basic.

    If you need something like integrations with e-commerce store or automation based on how the user behaves on your website – MailerLite doesn’t offer that.

    Did you find out if MailerLite offers any discounts for nonprofits?

    1. 21 Katy Teson April 18, 2018

      Hi Daniel,

      I appreciate your thoughtful responses. Thank you. I think others will also benefit from your assessment and the details you’ve shared.

      And I did hear back from MailerLite! They offer a generous 30% discount for nonprofits. For any organization interested in the discount, they ask that you reach out to their support team using info@mailerlite.com.

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