How to Make an Impact With Nonprofit Newsletter Content

Your nonprofit newsletter content is essential to spread news, bring in donations, and keep in touch with advocates. But while having a dedicated person to deploy email would be ideal, many nonprofits lack the time and resources to truly strategize their email sends. This can lead to poor email performance:

A MailChimp survey found that the average nonprofit email sent has an open rate of 25%, which means if you’re a nonprofit company, ¾ of your emails go unread.

However, certain best practices can help your nonprofit make an impact with email — increasing the number of volunteers, raising donations, and informing the community about your endeavors. We’ll show you 4 best practices to keep in mind when creating and sending nonprofit newsletter content.

1. Watch out for spam

Nonprofits lose roughly $15,000 per year because emails end up in the spam folder.

That money can go a long way, so it’s important marketers know how to get emails to the inbox.

Email Marketing

When measuring your open rates, make sure you know the difference between a “hard bounce” and a “soft bounce.” While a soft bounce can mean you’re catching in a few spam filters, hard bounces can mean something more severe: That you’ve been marked as spam or unsubscribed to by users.

Here are ways to stay out of spam:

  • Always have an unsubscribe button, so users can remove themselves from the email list instead of marking the email as spam.
  • Offer an opt-in email for newsletter subscribers, where users must first confirm if they would like to be added to the newsletter.
  • Don’t use purchased lists — those are email addresses that have not signed up for your newsletter, so they’re more likely to view you as spam.
Top Nonprofit Digital Trends for 2017

You should also consider the number of emails you send. Too high or low a frequency can drive subscribers to hit “Spam.”

Interesting subject lines, solid copy, and strong calls-to-action will get more email conversions. But first, make sure your emails don’t get caught in the spam folder.

More donations and stronger advocacy: Download

2. Personalize Content

In all industries, people want personalized content — and the impact is clear: 

Personalized emails have a 29% higher open rate and 41% higher unique click rate.

Personalized subject lines (which can be inputed with email automation softwares), give you a 26% higher unique open rate overall. But don’t just stop at the subject line. Here are other ways to personalize emails:

  • Include the person’s donor history — if they donated $10 last month, ask them to repeat the gesture.
  • Mention the person’s volunteer experience — if they volunteered for an event, make sure you show them you appreciate it.
  • Explain the impact their previous donation had with graphics, statistics, and storytelling.

By showing volunteers and donors your nonprofit appreciates their efforts, you will motivate more advocates and repeated actions.

3. Use Data

Whenever possible, use data and statistics in your nonprofit newsletter content. This will get readers’ attention. Instead of a long-winded email, bullet out important data points, write stories around important milestones, and even visualize data with infographics.

63% of donors that want to know how money will be used, so break down where $10 would go, $20, $50, and upward.

When people can understand where their donations go, they will be more likely to give.

nonprofit marketing strategy donations

Consider “gamifying” the donation impact, like this donation slider for Safe Horizon.

If possible, break down the impact of readers’ time as well. If they volunteer for three hours, explain what that will do and how it will help the cause specifically. When people understand what they are working towards, they will put in more effort.

4. Strong Next Steps

Each newsletter email should include a memorable call-to-action (CTA). What do you want people to do? This action might be donating, going to the website, volunteering for a day, etc.

It’s important that when readers know exactly what to do next after reading your email.

Emails with one single CTA increased clicks 371%, so make sure to choose one action for your readers to complete and display it prominently.

Also helpful is to consider relevancy. For example, if someone is a repeat donor, consider a specific CTA to “Increase your $20 monthly donation by just $5 to help serve 10 more meals!” instead of just “Donate!”

Be sure to include social sharing buttons in your email as well. Emails with social sharing buttons have an average click-through-rate (CTR) 158% higher than those that do not. Social sharing buttons help people easily spread the word about your organization, so be sure to add those in the email.

Nonprofit Newsletter Content: Try, test, and learn

Email newsletters are a vital part of any nonprofit marketing campaign. And to steadily increase your impact over time, it’s important to continually test and monitor results of different emails.

Practice A/B testing subject lines, copy, and images to learn what is most effective. You should measure not only email opens, but more importantly click-through rates on your CTA.

And for your calls-to-action, test out different language, stylings (button vs. text vs. graphic), and placement in the email to see what resonates.

Following these best practices will increase clicks, conversions, and the impact donors and advocates create for your nonprofit.


Sources:

https://mailchimp.com/resources/research/email-marketing-benchmarks/

https://www.philanthropy.com/article/Nonprofits-Lose-an-Average-of/229615

http://www.experian.com/marketing-services/email-market-study-2013.html

http://www.hopeconsulting.us/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/MoneyForGood_II_Full1.pdf

http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2015/06/10/digital-marketing-stats

https://blog.getresponse.com/social-sharing-boosts-email-ctr.html




Ironpaper is a results-driven digital marketing agency. Ironpaper integrates design, technology and marketing for the web to drive meaningful results for clients. We are based in New York City and Charlotte, NC.