6 Reasons to Rethink Your Email Newsletter

March 29, 2018 | EveryAction Team

Email fundraising and organizing has changed a lot since mass email tools first appeared on the scene. Just ten years ago, nonprofit newsletters were the go-to channel for collecting donations. But in today’s digital landscape, their impact has somewhat diminished. With major organizations and political campaigns adopting a more direct, targeted email donation ask, it can be intimidating to keep up with emerging trends.

Here are six reasons why you should rethink your email newsletter.

1. Too many options to click

It’s been proven time and again that the more links you have in an email, the worse they perform. When you include 5 or 6 links in an email, users are overwhelmed with choices and often end up selecting nothing or they pick one item to read and move on, rarely moving back to your original email.

Including one action for users per email is the best way to go about it, maybe it’s a donation ask or a ‘follow us on social media’ ask. Regardless, fewer links mean fewer chances for users to deviate from your intention.

2. They’re likely not raising much money.

Because your donation button is getting buried in the rest of your newsletter links, people aren’t clicking on it, which means you’re not raising money.

Meanwhile, a straight-forward email donation ask to help support your work is much more effective because you are being clear with you intention and the action you want people to take.

3. Readers get distracted

After all your hard work, it’s a bummer to know that not many people are even reading your newsletter in the first place. They might click on a story or two, but readers rarely, if ever, move back to your email to read through all the pieces in your newsletter. If you have a big story, dedicate a whole email to it. Don’t dilute your impact by including other stories, save those for sharing on Facebook.

4. Formatting issues

Even on a responsive, mobile-friendly template, tables and pictures can mess with the formatting of your email. And between Outlook, Gmail and the dozens of other email providers available, there is a big chance that your email is bound to have formatting errors, which means that users can’t easily read what you’ve put together.

Litmus and Email on Acid can flag these issues, but if you don’t have someone familiar with HTML and CSS on your team, it might be difficult to fix.

We suggest that you stick with a simple, no-frills template, put your logo at the top and stick with a white background. If you want to share a recap like you would in a newsletter, then include a just a few photos and blurbs about your most recent achievements and work in donation asks throughout the email. No need for tables or dividers. 

5. Not effective for donor engagement

We know what you are thinking, “but our donors want to see our work!” You’re right they do, but sending them highlights from 3 different events and links to two upcoming events isn’t showing your work.

Instead, try having a member of your development team send a blog post recapping highlights from an event directly to a donor with a message that their donation made this event possible, and with their continued help your organization will be able to do more good work. 

A one-on-one message with a clear example of a success story and a direct ask is much more personal and will be much more effective at strengthening relationships and collecting donations.

6. Too time consuming

Often newsletters can be time consuming to put together, especially if you’re including stories from other programs or departments. You need to draft content, interview clients, get approvals from multiple people, find photos, make edits, and then put the email together. We’re exhausted just thinking about that.

That takes an incredible amount of work for very little payoff (few clicks and even fewer donations) Emailing with a focus on one action will take less time and be more effective.



Want to learn more about email fundraising? Sign up for our free two week email fundraising course. We’ll email a five-minute lesson that you can read at your leisure. This email course is packed with the latest tips and strategies to help take your email program to the next level—complete with exercises, examples, data, and more!