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A Go-To-Guide for Crafting Legacy Enewsletters

If you are like most people, you are dealing with a myriad of new issues and responsibilities as a result of COVID-19 and working from home. Adding a “legacy enewsletter” to your list of to-dos for the week might seem like a daunting task. However, with donors creating and updating wills and trusts in record numbers, now is the best time in years for you to reach out to your supporters and offer them assistance in the areas of gift and legacy planning.

The goals of charities that send regular planned giving emails often include piquing the interest of supporters, building-up readership and promoting donor engagement. Some of the best planned giving enewsletters use mission-related stories and strong imagery to achieve these goals. I want to provide a quick and easy guide to help you create effective planned giving enewsletters. This article will discuss best practices for email marketing, content creation and practical tips.


Whatever message you are sending, strong images are the key to evoking an emotional response from readers. The best images will highlight the work and mission of your organization. For example, if you are a college or university, you might want to highlight your campus, surrounding area or your leadership. Event photos are also popular with donors, particularly when they can find themselves and their friends in the pictures. Since many organizations are not currently holding events, you can feature an image from a past event that your supporters will happily remember.

Keep in mind that your email recipients know and likely have been a part of your mission in some way. Your supporters are strongly tied to your organization and images that recall their memories can trigger an emotional response. Eye-catching images can also be used to pull the eye to a specific content area of your enewsletter. Make sure the images you use are memorable!

Email Copy

Your email content should be written with care, particularly right now when so many are looking to email (and other online channels) for information. Email platforms allow you to personalize an email by including a dynamic element in the opening salutation. You should also include your contact information and picture. Including this information in every email send will help potential donors identify you as their point of contact.

Now let’s talk about email copy, also referred to as the body of the email. You are probably thinking – How much should I write? Your introductory paragraphs should include relevant information that speaks to your organization’s mission, vision and values. Readers should have a tangible view into your vision in action. You can then include links to articles about current work, donor stories and ways to support your cause.

Crescendo’s Integrated Marketing Specialist, Andy Ragone, says when writing email copy:

“Healthy life changes, events, stories and progress indicators of your organization’s vision are always beneficial. Keep it brief, inspiring and use story as often as possible. When your enewsletter is fresh, your donor base will become more enthusiastic about your efforts as an organization. This takes time, but pointing out the “wins” will help you move forward.”

An important element of an enewsletter is to provide information about ways to give. You should plan to include specific topics to be featured in your enewsletters at different points during the year. For example, in the later months you can highlight the IRA charitable rollover, end of year gift options and a “thank you” to donors who have already supported your organization this year.

Remember to use terminology that your readers will recognize. Be consistent with your verbiage across publications. If your organization normally uses the terminology “gift planning” avoid using “planned giving.” If you call your legacy planning guide an “Estate Planning Guide” avoid the term “Wills Guide.” This will help your donors obtain the information they need and avoid confusion.

Calls to Action

Humans are creatures of habit, so we respond to calls to action. Your emails should read like it is a real person speaking rather than a robot. Your emails should be conversational as if you are in a meeting with one of your donors. Make calls to action simple such as “read more” and “learn more.” Always include your email address so that readers know where to contact you directly to follow- up about a highlighted giving idea or featured article.


It is important to think about design during the email creation process. Consistency is important in overall design. The colors used in your email should be consistent with your organization’s overall branding. Most organizations follow a style guide but you can also use your primary website as a reference. Fonts should also be a standard size and style throughout your emails. Leave the fancy fonts at home and use something that is easy to read.


When you finish writing a good email you should have a feeling of accomplishment. Hold that thought, because finishing the email is only the first feat. Testing your email is a key step in preparation. Send a test email to your work email address, personal email address and to a colleague. View the email on multiple devices such as a desktop computer, tablet and mobile device. Read it carefully and check for any formatting errors or website links that are not working.

What do Email Recipients Want?

Your email recipients want to come away from your emails feeling like insiders. Readers also want to feel that they have learned something valuable that they did not know before and have a greater knowledge as a result of reading. Remember to make your emails simple, clear and concise. You should convey a message your recipients will want to read. Sharing stories and crafting your legacy enewsletter is part of building relationships.

Email is your friend right now. Use it well! Sharing stories and crafting your legacy enewsletter is one of the ways you can build relationships when you cannot spend time with your donors in person. How are you finding success in using emails to reach your supporters during this time? Share in the comments below.

Hailey Dorthalina

By Hailey Dorthalina
Integrated Marketing Coordinator, Crescendo Interactive, Inc.

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