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Top 5 Nonprofit Email Communication Tips

Lately, I’ve had many clients ask me to review their nonprofit email communications before they send them out. After I review them and edit, I also refer them to my colleague and nonprofit marketing guru, John Haydon. He has so many great articles on this subject, and one I like in particular is his article entitled, “Top 5 Nonprofit Email Newsletter Mistakes,” a must read – but here’s a few tips that I recommend to my clients to ensure higher open rates for  email communications:

  1. A catchy subject line – “Our XYZ Nonprofit Newsletter” isn’t really catchy, is it? Try something like “5 Minutes of Time Could Change a Life,” or something that’s intriguing enough to make the reader want to open your email.
  2. Clear, large photos or video – We are a visual world and we need to “see” your work in action. Photos should be editorial in quality, not grainy or showing the backs of heads of crowds. Show your program staff interacting with your beneficiaries whenever possible (get photo permissions, of course.)
  3. Engaging, but brief content – Tell a story about the picture – what impact are you making to change a life, a community, the world?  Nothing turns a reader off more than an email that is several paragraphs long. Think about how you respond to email marketing. Which ones do you open and read, and which ones do you just open, skim, then delete?
  4. Avoid “program speak” – Use real language to tell the story – save your high-level program speak for internal documents. If your mom or grandmother can’t read it quickly and understand it, edit again (that’s not to say moms and grandmas aren’t savvy, but do they or any friend or family member outside your organization understand your “program speak?”)  A great thing you can do before you hit that “send” button, is to send a test to someone you know who isn’t intimately familiar with your work and ask them if it was easy to read and understand and get their feedback.
  5. Include calls to action, such as “click here to learn more, share with a friend, donate, or register now,” or any combination of these as needed.

I’d love to hear from you, what has worked at your nonprofit?