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Effective Enewsletter Tips for Nonprofits

A donor enewsletter is a key element of your marketing toolkit. Donor enewsletters are often service-based and stewardship oriented, focused on engaging with your donors so they feel connected to your cause. Here are a few tips for creating effective nonprofit newsletters.

1. Consistency

Consistency is paramount in all marketing – especially with your enewsletter. Enewsletters should be used to share a small variety of engaging articles that give supporters a reason to click through to your website.

In order to commit to a consistent enewsletter, you first need to decide a frequency that works best for your organization. How much time can you realistically commit to enewsletter copy? Do you have staff support if you need it? Do you have time to thoughtfully respond to enewsletter needs? Can you manage the analytics? These are all crucial questions to ask when planning your first enewsletter.

Based on the answers, you can decide on the appropriate frequency. Many organizations start with a monthly enewsletter, but this can be pared down to quarterly or ramped up to weekly depending on staff capacity. No matter what frequency you choose, add it to the calendar and be sure that it is consistent.

2. Timing

Timing is everything – and that rings true for enewsletters. Take a look at your organization’s overall communications calendar and the audience. Be sure that this group is not already being bombarded with emails from your organization. If you have a lot of activity during a particular time or season, be mindful of that when preparing and scheduling your enewsletters. You will also want to be sure that no other important announcements are also going out that will overshadow your engagement efforts. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are popular send days, whereas Fridays tend to be quieter as supporters prepare for the upcoming weekend.

3. Content

A good starting place for a donor enewsletter is to include an introduction, key news from the organization and 3-5 articles that are refreshed for each send. The articles and content should be custom tailored to your audience. If you are trying to reach older donors about including your nonprofit in their estate plans, your articles should reflect that demographic – such as senior living tips, donor stories, retirement news and tax-saving strategies. The enewsletter should also be personal, perhaps including a brief introduction from the foundation president with a headshot or an offer to join an exclusive event on campus. Connecting with your donors at a heart-level should always be at the top of your priority list.

4. Statistics

Maximize your reach by staying on top of your enewsletter statistics and key performance indicators (KPIs). These include a few important metrics such as open, click-through and opt-out rates. Open rates are primarily driven by the strength of the subject line, so avoid sending anything too generic. Subject lines should be tailored to the content within the newsletter and encourage your donors to read more. With the flurry of emails we all receive, make yours stand out.

Click-through rates are largely the result of your call-to-action. Offering something specific that resonates with the audience’s needs and interests will ultimately drive more clicks. One of the biggest errors I see in enewsletter marketing is offering all information up front without incentivizing donors to click through to the website. Avoid including a full story and instead only use a few captivating sentences that drive the donor to click on the link to learn more.

As you review your enewsletter analytics, keep specific benchmarks in mind and make adjustments accordingly. Benchmarks are often dependent on industry. According to nonprofit email marketing studies, the benchmarks for open and click-through rates for the nonprofit space are approximately 25% and 4%, respectively. Benchmarks are a great way to see how your messages stack up. However, you also need to consider the size of your list and how warm the leads are on the list as that will influence your rates. This is why it is so important to have a good list.

5. Segmentation

Segmentation makes it personal and helps to lower opt-out rates. While it may take more time to segment your marketing, it is an effort that is often worthwhile. You can create various email lists based on level of interest, geography, age, giving history, wealth, gender, marital status, etc. The point is to use specific messaging and imagery that resonates with your target audience. For example, couples with and without children may have different concerns when it comes to estate and gift planning. You might consider creating two separate enewsletters that cater to their individual needs.

Contact Crescendo at 800-858-9154 to learn more about engaging your donors through enewsletters. Have you tried any other strategies in your enewsletter that works well for your organization? Let us know. We would like to hear from you.


Kate Bailey

By Kate Bailey
Legacy Campaign Specialist, Crescendo Interactive, Inc.

Jeffrey M Biggar says:
June 10, 2021 4:53 AM PT

Kate- this is helpful. I guess I did not realize I should change the subject line with each newsletter (I actually thought it was "fixed"). I will try a new approach this month. Thanks- Jeff

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