Getting Your Non-Profit’s Message Across with Email Newsletters

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non-profits1Sending email newsletters is a cheap, dynamic method of getting your message across to your supporters and donors.

Below are tips for non-profits who advertise by email.


Some of the most common complaints readers have about nonprofit emails is that they’re boring. They’re too long, they don’t get to the point, they aren’t written with donors in mind. Too many nonprofits have a tendency to laud the new CEO with a full, 2,000-word biographic article — don’t do this. Your donors want to hear about the work you’re doing.

Instead, write updates about your projects, including photos and calendars of events and deadlines. You should also be posting regularly on Facebook and Twitter — at least once a day — with more specific, personal updates from staff members. You can use your email marketing software to plan your posts, so you don’t have to babysit Facebook all day.

Talk about more than your projects — readers want dynamic, varied content. Become a thought leader by lending your expertise and opinion on current events that affect your cause and are related to your readers’ interests.


If you’re asking for donations, best practice is to be timely and show that the money is needed now, for a specific reason. During the course of your projects, plan strategically when you should ask for money. Ask before events, or Internet-events, or at other times when you can demonstrate that need is high and time is running out.

If money is a continuing need, consider yearly or quarterly donation drives. These can be promoted with Facebook posts, graphics, interviews, and videos.

In your email newsletters, ask specifically for a donation. Your donation emails should be no more than 200 words, and should follow the format of:

  • State the problem.
  • State what action needs to be taken to solve it.
  • Provide the resource for the reader to take action.

Assume the reader wants to help and you’re providing the information they need to do so.

Formatting for Clarity

Your email should be short and scannable. Keep it to a few hundred words, able to be glanced at in a few seconds to get the gist. To make your formatting easy to read, use:

  • Bulleted lists
  • Images
  • Headers
  • Underlined and colored link text
  • Buttons
  • Tables
  • One or two columns

Even if you don’t have a big budget, your design can say ‘expensive’. Use solid colors rather than pattern. Use fewer images and streamline your topics to one or two per email. Design a template for your email campaign and use it consistently for all emails.

Use restraint in all aspects of design: one font and one color for all headers and one font for text. Sans serif fonts look more tidy than serif. Above all, be consistent. Underline every link, use the same type of bullet for every list item, use the same size logo every time you use the logo. Consistency in design looks like you’ve hired a marketing team who knows what they’re doing, even if you’re sending your email from your home office.


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