at signEmail is essential to your communication plan!  Every nonprofit organization uses email to give information, keep in touch, send announcements and invitations and ask for money.  Email is an effective tool, here you’ll learn how to maximize your results.

Make your email work harder (and become a Champion at the same time!):

        1. Build a Great List.  Every nonprofit needs friends – and their addresses.  Be sure you have good email addresses for everyone you want to reach.  Continue to add addresses for people already in your database and for everyone new that you meet.
        2. Call to Action!  Decide before you write a word what you want to get from this email!  Every communication needs a clear Call to Action.  If you know what you want the reader to do, your email will be much more effective – whether it’s an invitation, newsletter, friendly greeting, request or appeal.  Make it easy for them to do just what you want them to do.
        3. Craft the subject line.  Choose your subject line carefully.  The subject of your email may make the difference between it being opened or ignored, in a typical mailing as many as 80% may never be opened.  Write something compelling and interesting that will make them want to know more.
        4. Here’s one I didn’t immediately open, the subject is:
          Celebrating 100 Years: Girl Scouting Works!
          When I did look (to write this) I found a story about some interesting research that shows women who were Girl Scouts are more successful. I shared this link with all my favorite past and present Girl Scouts. The email would have gotten my attention immediately if it had a subject like this:
          Study shows Girl Scouts earn more, give more
        5. Personalize it. Address each email individually whenever possible. If you have the technology and the knowledge of how to customize an email, use it.  If not use a friendly greeting like “Dear friend of Organization.”  If there is anyone receiving the email who may not be sure why they are getting it, state the reason up front: “You are receiving this invitation because you volunteered at our…” If you do not have a database program, like eTapestry or Convio, that provides mailing services you could use free or low cost mailing services like Mailchimp and Constant Contact.
        6. Write a strong opening.  Make sure your opening or headline makes them want to know more.  Compelling works better than persuasive.  You’ve got 5 seconds to capture their attention.  Go for it!
        7. Here are two examples from one organization asking recipients to sign up for a tour.
          Persuasive: Help us celebrate National NeighborWorks® Week
          “A Wonderful Surprise around every corner.” If you thought you knew all that Orange had to offer, think again!
        8. Choose the best format.  Just because you can make it look like a print newsletter doesn’t mean you should.  Like most people, I read personal emails but I don’t always get to the newsletters and other mass mailings.  Pay attention to what you open and read, it may help you make choices.  Try alternating a standard newsletter format with personalized emails and occasional news flashes.  Balance the “asks” with the “gives” – if you send two appeals a year be sure to send two (or more) invitations.  Introduce each newsletter story with a snappy headline, a short intro and a link to the full article on your site.  Use your established brand so it is instantly recognizable. 
        9. Use the right words.  Take the time to craft a well written email.  If writings not your thing have someone else do the writing (hire a copywriter if you can swing it).  Always have someone proofread!  Enough said.
        10. End with a great signature.  You, and everybody in your organization, should have an email signature; it is easy to create one in Outlook or Gmail.  It usually includes your name, contact information and a link to your website.  Include every option for someone to communicate with you or link to you.  It can even include a handwritten signature, your logo and a Facebook Like button.  
        11. Do it again. You are probably not communicating enough with your friends, volunteers, prospects and donors.  Frequency and consistency are important.  Try an extra mailing (or two) and measure the results.
        12. Book it. Create a full calendar of email communications.  Plan the why, who, what and where so there are no surprises or last minute rushes (I hope!).  

    That’s it! 10 steps to creating powerful emails that get you just what you need.

    Here are some links that may be helpful to you:
    Nonprofit databases



    Newsletter services


    Constant Contact

    Research on what works in email and other online marketing

    Marketing Experiments