An email address is extremely valuable because it requires action on the user’s part and provides you with a direct line of access to them. Subscribers want to know that in exchange, they will only receive content that is engaging, relevant, and manageable. The best nonprofit email marketing strategies balance all three elements by:
- Writing motivating subject lines and entertaining emails with plenty of visuals
- Using groups and segments to only send content to people who have expressed interest in that topic
- Having a consistent newsletter schedule and not sending too frequently
But what does this actually look like in practice? How do you execute this at your organization? If you are currently asking yourself these questions, have no fear! Below we show you some of the best nonprofit newsletters and explain why they are awesome so you can take their best practices to your organization.
Learn how to leverage the curiosity gap to create great subject lines.
Founded in 2010 to honor Yeardley Love, One Love Foundation works with young people across the country to raise awareness about the warning signs of abuse. They are a great example for organizations with younger audiences (or organizations that want more engagement from younger audiences). One Love sends a regular “heartbeat” update with organization news and articles to read. They keep it simple by only sending about 3 articles per email, so users do not get overwhelmed. Their selected articles discuss abuse and assault as seen in popular culture, such as “50 Shades of Grey,” or a recent celebrity scandal. These stories, along with their use of emojis and hashtags, register with their young audience.
Talk about keeping it simple. This newsletter is a great example for nonprofit storytelling. charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries. Their emails tell stories of people who’s lives were changed by their programs. Highlighting the impact of the organization is inspiring and motivating, so when charity:water sends a fundraising email, the memory of these stories (and their beautiful imagery) drives people to give. The body of the emails are always very simple, with just 1-2 short paragraphs and calls to action. By limiting the copy of the email, users are given just a taste, and are more willing to click through. This takes some of the effort off of the people or person writing your emails, and allows you to get more data from their on-site engagement with Google Analytics.
Everytown for Gun Safety is a movement of Americans fighting for common-sense reforms to reduce gun violence. Their cause (just like many others) is frequently part of the 24 hour news cycle and political narrative. They take advantage of these news stories being top of mind and reference them in their newsletter subject lines to attract the attention of subscribers who are already thinking about current events. They keep the reader engaged by using personalization within the email, so it feels like a personal letter rather than a news blast. Finally, they use bolding and highlighting to focus on the key point of the newsletter: we need to take action, and this is how.
EmbraceRace is building an online community to discuss and share best practices for raising and caring for kids, all kids, in the context of race. Their newsletter is targeted at teachers, and provides them with valuable resources for fostering inclusion and belonging in the classroom. Their subject lines use familiar slang like “woke,” which is likely top of mind for their readers and compels them to click through. Each email begins with an organization update, and is followed by a series of relevant articles and videos, similar to One Love. Instead of describing the articles, they choose to let them speak for themselves by featuring engaging quotes. This tactic is especially useful if your team has a limited capacity for writing. The best part of this newsletter is that they say exactly how long it will take to read or watch each article or video, so users know exactly what they are getting into. Clearly outlining what a user will get when they click a link is the best way to get engaged traffic to your site.
No matter your size or capacity, you can have the best newsletter when you keep content engaging, relevant, and manageable. Don’t forget to add personalization, and always, always have a call to action. Know of another nonprofit with awesome newsletters? Share it with us and tweet @WholeWhale.
The NRDC has a clear weekly communication around different themes surrounding the issues they support called the Top of Mind Weekly. They also offer this alert as a text message for a nice bonus. The consistency of the communication sets expectation and keeps a great scheduled drumbeat of content. The newsletter content is put in a clean, branded template and always has great imagery as only the NRDC can do.
Annual report template
Save time on design and focus on showing your impact