How to Use Email Interests

Setting expectations for your constituents regarding how you will communicate with them using email makes all of the difference in their likelihood to open emails and, therefore, stay engaged with your organization.

What Email Interests Are (and What They Are Not)

Email interests are designed to be categories of mass email your organization sends to your constituents. Categories like "Monthly Newsletter" and "Volunteer Opportunities" are common, but every organization is different. The key to defining these categories is to put yourself in your constituent's shoes and determine what types of email communication donors would want to subscribe to or unsubscribe from. Every email you send out needs to be marked with at least one email interest (it can be multiple, more on that later). If you send out an email more than once a quarter, you need to have an email interest specifically for that communication. This allows constituents to opt out of only that type, and you decrease the chance of them unsubscribing from all of your emails.

As a thought experiment, let's take the most extreme case: sending out an appeal/ask every month for donations. It probably would make you nervous to set up an Appeal email interest for fear that your constituent base would opt out. But think of it this way--if you're sending out emails that people don't want and you don't have an email interest specifically for that communication, they will opt out entirely. Given the choice between them not getting hard solicitations or no email at all, I'd pick the option that allows my organization to still communicate with them about other things.

If you have donors that are fiercely loyal to certain program areas, setting up email interests for these programs is a great idea. To oversimplify, consider an animal shelter: you may have constituents that are "dog people" and would much rather receive updates on what's happening with dog-specific programs, and you may have "cat people" that would rather hear about cats and not dogs. In this scenario, you could have an email interest for each, and constituents would be able to self-select what types of email they get from you from the bottom of every email.

What Email Interests Are Not

While email interests do segment your database for emails, these are not "lists" as might be used in Constant Contact or MailChimp. If you want to send out an email to your board members, the constituent record in Bloomerang should have a custom field identifying the people on your board. Then, in the email setup, you would select all of the relevant email interests and use the filters to only select board members. The reason for this is simple: constituents cannot only opt out of email interests, but they can opt in to interests as well.

Manage Email Preferences

At the bottom of every mass email sent from Bloomerang are two links: Unsubscribe and Manage Email Preferences.

When a constituent clicks on either link, he is taken to a page that allows him to:

  • Update his primary email address
  • Opt-out from all mass email
  • Customize his email interests

Putting It All Together

Going back to the animal rescue example, let's walk through what should happen when a new constituent signs up for your emails (via a online Bloomerang email sign-up form):

  1. Website visitor (call him Luke, for this example) clicks on the link to sign up for emails from your organization.
  2. An automatic response is sent to him directly from Bloomerang. This response should:
    1. Thank him for signing up and include the name of your organization.
    2. List your email interests with a description of what to expect for each (frequency you plan to send it out and what type of content they will see in it).
    3. Point out the Manage Email Preferences link at the bottom of the email so he can immediately customize what type of emails he wants to receive from your organization.

This is all easy to do in Bloomerang by setting a custom confirmation email for your Email Sign-up form.

Going back to the animal rescue example, here's a sample of what the first email that a new constituent signs up for your emails (via a online Bloomerang email sign-up form):


Thank you for signing up to receive emails from Tatooine Animal Shelter. We send out a few different types of emails at various points throughout the year:

  • Monthly Newsletter - an overview of everything going on at the Animal Shelter, what has happened and anything upcoming.
  • Volunteer Opportunities - sent out on an as-needed basis when we need additional volunteers to help with the animals.
  • Dog Updates - updates on dogs that have found homes and new arrivals
  • Cat Updates - updates on cats that have found homes and new arrivals

If you would like to customize the type of email you receive from us at any time, please click on the "Manage Email Preferences" link at the bottom of this, or any, email.

Thanks so much, and we look forward to keeping you up to date with what's happening here!

Tatooine Animal Shelter

By using email interests correctly in Bloomerang, you honor the expectation that you have set with using your constituents' email addresses. This will keep the number of constituents you can communicate with higher and give you more opportunities to keep them engaged with your organization.