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Carlos Vizcardo
by Carlos Vizcardo

Newsletter Best Practices For Nonprofits

A newsletter strategy for nonprofits that works!

Less is more. That used to be the good ol’ saying, but in today’s day and age a whole LOT less is more. And by more we mean what is accepted or you’ll look like a business that doesn’t understand the online world. People are too smart now to be tricked by BIG RED LETTERS, huge billboards, or even using call to actions such as “click here." In this article, we want to show you that less does mean more by talking about a better newsletter strategy for nonprofits. These strategies can increase engagement and conversions rates, but results may vary.

A whole lot less is more.

Newsletter engagement click rate is roughly 25%, much higher when compared to Facebook’s 7% average engagement rate. Achieving a 25% isn't easy, of course, so let’s talk about how we can get that magical number to increase your donations, number of volunteers. or anything else your nonprofit is looking to do with your newsletter. Most believe that a successful newsletter comes from a great subject line. Others believe it is the content and the actual design of your newsletter that makes it successful. We believe it's a mix of both.

If your content and design is not up to par with other successful nonprofits, users will not be interested in your message. If your subject line isn't attractive or doesn't make sense, then users will not click on your email. Both of these must go hand in hand in order for a newsletter to be successful.

The Simplistic Newsletter Strategy.

I'm sure all of us have received or keep receiving that very long email newsletter asking to get involved in this thing or buy that thing. Again, that may have worked in years before, but today long email newsletters are a big no no.

The Simplistic Newsletter Strategy was created to ensure that users only concentrate on one topic, while keeping a parallax (vertical) template. This makes sure that the user reads the entirety of the email and fulfills your call to action.

1 image, 1 description, 1 button.

So how do we create a better newsletter? It’s simple really. Just use one image, one description, and one button for users to click on – that’s it. Have one image that sums up your entire email. One description, maybe one to two paragraphs below the image, with a call to action that tells a user why they should get involved. One button so the user has only one place to click, though we suggest that you avoid saying "Click Here." Less places to click means more engagement with your original message.

Below is an example of how we would create an email to collect recurring donations to fight cancer in children. Make sure to stick to the template as much as possible (same background color, font size, etc.). Our subject line would read “How to Fight Childhood Cancer”. Your subject line is very important, so here we found an article to help you learn more about the best practices for email subject lines.

CHNF example

Explaining the design.

1) Your users must clearly see the name and logo of your nonprofit at the very top of your newsletter. It seems pretty straight forward, but you'd be surprised by how many newsletters we’ve received that didn't include a logo. We also did not include any links on the top or the bottom. Remember, less places to click on means less areas for them to click away.

2) Below your logo have one strong image that sums up the entire email. The image should cover your newsletter from left to right, as it shows in the example above. The ideal picture size would be 590x240. Your subscribers will look at the picture before they read your content, so make sure the picture is perfect!

3) Have one description. We like to keep it relatively short, about two paragraphs summarizing the nonprofit with a regular #323232 hex color font.

4) Have the call to action separate from the description. We bolded the call to action to give it that extra little 'oomph. Another great way is to make you call to action green (#77a41d). Our eyes naturally categorize green as semi-important when put next to red and black texts.

5) We created a red (hex #c4000e) button that again avoided using the words "Click Here." With call to actions it is best to cut to the chase, so we added a button that read “Donate to Cancer Research”.

So when should you sent out your newsletter?

There isn’t a clear cut day and time to send your newsletter. Every email list will be different, but we have a few numbers that should help you get started on the right track. Based on our research you should consider sending your welcome emails every Monday and sending your get involved emails on Wednesday (the best day for newsletters, according to our data). Emails should also be sent closest to the 5th and the 20th (since pay days are on the 1st and 15th) at 6:00am, when people are generally waking up for the day, or 8:30pm, where most people would have finished dinner and are relaxing.

Make sure you have your emails organized and be conscious of time zones. For example, if your nonprofit operates on the West Coast and you send out your newsletter to users in the East Coast, then 8:30pm PST would be 11:30pm EST. This would more than likely result in the newsletter not being opened. If you need us to manage your newsletter, please contact us for a free quote.

Side note: Ever heard of Google's nonprofit program?

Did you know Google provides nonprofits with $10,000 per month in free advertising credit? This program is known as Google Grants and it's available to almost every 501c3 nonprofit organization. Learn how we can help you get the most out of the Google Grant program. Click below to get started!
There's a smarter way to do Google Grants.

Carlos Vizcardo

Carlos Vizcardo
Carlos is the Founder of Elevate Clicks and owns a few passive income websites. He started his first nonprofit at 19 years old and has been involved in the nonprofit world ever since. He currently owns two cats and one dog.

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