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Email marketing case study: Audubon Institute

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[Publisher’s note: The Philanthropy Journal does not necessarily endorse the opinions, products or services offered or cited in this paid advertorial.]

If your nonprofit is considering adding email to the mix or needs to update its email marketing strategy, consider the nonprofit Audubon Nature Institute, a family of zoos and parks dedicated to nature.

The Institute relies on private donations for the majority of its funding, and revenue also comes from paid memberships and entrance fees to the parks and museums.

Like many nonprofits, the Institute initially communicated with members and donors through quarterly print publications.

Though valuable, the printed magazine was a time-intensive endeavor and could not focus on any timely topics.

In addition, Audubon communicated with donors only once a year through a “year-in-review”-style newsletter.

As the Institute moved to an online strategy for all of its marketing efforts, it included email marketing as a key element of the strategy.  With three main audiences, the Institute created three separate e-newsletters with three separate goals.

  • Non-member newsletter to drive traffic to parks and convert to members.
  • Member newsletter to demonstrate value of membership and drive traffic to parks.
  • Leader newsletter to validate contributions and educate on research and other activities.

The net result of adding more frequent communication with all audiences has been increased traffic and improved relationships with all involved.  The move to email newsletters has also provided information to the marketing team through click-tracking and open rates.

No one ever knew what became of the quarterly print magazine.

With tracking information, the Institute is able to adapt its marketing messages and tactics based on real data.

According to Denny Juge, internet communications designer, the Institute’s email marketing strategy is now an “evolving and ongoing process,” complete with the flexibility to meet the changing needs and interests of subscribers.

Editors use tracking information to tweak newsletter content in response to readers’ interests.

Juge describes the email marketing strategy as “the best solution for communication with members and other audiences on a regular basis and at low cost.”


Bronto Software is an email marketing software company with more than 350 clients across North America and Europe. Organizations use Bronto’s web-based software to manage email contact lists for sending email newsletters, email surveys and other communications. Features include automated email list management, email templates, list segmentation and real-time reporting.

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