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Improve your fundraising with these email newsletter tips

Having direct access to the inboxes of people who have donated (or may donate) to you is invaluable.

For example, Did you know that email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new supporters than Facebook or Twitter, according to McKinsey?

Or that for every £1 spent, email marketing generates £38 in ROI, according to Campaign Monitor?

As you can see, email marketing and email newsletters give you a great return on investment - if they’re done right.

We’ve put together a few tips for charities and nonprofits to improve their donor newsletters to get those open rates, click rates and fundraising profits way, way up.

1. Use a professional email service

Even if you’re a small organisation just getting started with your email marketing strategy, it’s worth the investment to use an email marketing management tool. It will help you look more professional, manage your data, schedule your messages and see advanced performance reports.

“Using an e-mail newsletter provider will make list management far easier. Newsletter service providers also make it easy to stay compliant with SPAM regulations and easy to make your newsletters look nice in both HTML and text formats.”

MailChimp is the industry favourite, though there are many other options which have flexible pricing structures depending on the size of your email list.

Plus, Mailchimp integrates with Donorfy, so you can keep you email list and donor database in sync. Brilliant if you’re looking to up your fundraising via email marketing.

2. Keep the design front-of-mind

While it shouldn’t take you all day to prepare, you should put a bit of love into your email newsletter. A poorly formatted newsletter with no design love will feel unprofessional and slap-dash to your donors.

You’ll want to prioritise a mobile-friendly design, as responsive templates will increase user engagement.

You should also ensure you’re including social media sharing buttons or calls-to-action to encourage your donors to share your newsletter stories and increase the reach of your message.

The Non-Profit Tech For Good blog compiled a great list of best practices for your email template.

3. Keep it short

We like to live by the mantra “share a little. Link to more”.

Concise copy gives your subscribers a taste of your content -- just enough that they want to click and learn more. White space is key in email newsletters because it helps visually alleviate the cluttered feel, and on mobile, makes it much easier for people to click the right link.”

4. Not every email should be a sales pitch

 If you want your donors and your community to open the email in the first place, make sure you’re putting in content that is relevant, timely and interesting to them.

The content in your newsletter shouldn’t just be focused on fundraising, but rather a mixture of self-promotional copy as well as good, relevant storytelling.

Put yourself in the shoes of your reader and think about what you’d like to read (and share) to feel good about your involvement with the cause.

Some tips for keeping the news relevant to donors:

  • Accomplishments (What did you do with my money? What did I help do?);

  • Opportunities (What could you do with my money? What are other ways to help?);

  • Recognition (Did my support matter? Am I important?) and;

  • Efficiency (Can I trust you with my money?)

5. Sharpen up your storytelling skills

To emphasise the point above about sharing things your donors want to read:

“Learn to tell great stories. This is vital for the success of your fundraising campaign.”

Vanessa Lockshin outlines three story types to include in every email newsletter to your fundraising donors:

  • A Client “Success” Story (show donors what your mission looks like in action)

  • The “Why” Story (why are we doing what we do?)

  • The “Future” Story (what’s possible with your help?)

6. Don’t forget the most important thing: calls-to-action!

All of your mobile design and storytelling finesse will be for nought if you don’t include calls-to-action (CTA) in your donor email newsletters.

Providing a clear CTA means providing your readers with instructions about what you want them to do. Share? Donate? Forward on?

You may think it is superfluous to focus so much on a few links, but having well-designed CTAs in button format can increase your link clicks by up to 28%. The design will differ based upon on the specific goal for the content you’re sending out, but you’ll need to consider things like colour, size and copy.

This blog post is a great resource and checklist for designing effective call-to-action buttons - give it a read!

7. Get Inspired

The best way to improve your own content is to learn from others. You should be subscribing to other nonprofit or charity newsletters to inspire your own content.

What are they doing that you could emulate?

Do you have the resources or time to try something new?

What are the content trends in your industry?

We found a few examples to get you started:

8. Get going!

Are you holding back on launching an email newsletter?

Get started! The only way to learn is to try, and you can A/B test your content and learn what your supporters do and don’t enjoy based on regular feedback and click rates.

There are a million little best practices to keep in mind, so take your time, do your research and start adding value to your donors’ inboxes sooner rather than later.

Want a smart, powerful and affordable CRM that integrate with your email marketing system? Take a look at Donorfy - start your 14 day free trial now.

Want to learn more? Read about our 2016 Civil Society win, where Donorfy was voted BEST Charity CRM for cost, functionality, integration and more.