35 Nonprofit Newsletter Best Practices to Inspire Donors

Ines Alvergne • Jul 26, 2019

When potential donors give you their email address, they’re providing a direct line of communication. This is an invitation for you to share more information about your nonprofit organization and the impact you have. 

With this newfound trust comes a certain level of responsibility with your content marketing efforts. To engage your audience, you need to consistently provide compelling content that will inspire, excite, and re-engage readers with your purpose.

While nonprofit email marketing efforts are already in a better position than other industries – nonprofit emails are 4x more likely to be opened – the real conversion is what happens afterward.

That’s because the main goal for your nonprofit newsletter is to give your potential and existing donors a chance to engage with your organization over the long term and raise more money for your cause.

How often should nonprofit send emails?

Newsletters are some of the most engaging pieces of communication you can send. They are a great way to stay in touch with past donors, stay top of mind with potential donors, or even forge new relationships altogether. Most nonprofit email newsletters are sent out on either a weekly or monthly basis. How much to share with your subscribers depends heavily on their open rate habits.   While there is a fine line between sharing too much and too little, statistics show that sending email campaigns 2-5 times per month sits somewhere in the sweet zone for your audience. However, it’s important to remember that no two email lists are the same and your nonprofit’s sweet spot could be different. 

How do you write a compelling nonprofit newsletter? 

Now that you have a schedule in mind, it’s time to start by thinking about your audience. What are they interested in? Which pieces of content have they historically engaged the most with? Then, think about your mission – What can you offer them through your email campaigns?

Don’t forget, newsletter recipients want valuable and entertaining content that won’t take too long to read. Your newsletter should be all about your cause and the essence of your organization. Donors, volunteers, or any other supporters signed up to receive emails from you because they are interested in who you are and what you do.

The challenge lies in coming up with fresh content to consistently fill your newsletter. To inspire you, we’ve put together some suggestions that will help you create an awesome nonprofit newsletter.

1. Let people know about your recent achievements

Your supporters want to know about your successes and the impact you’re making. 

What did your nonprofit organization recently achieve? Let your audience in on recent happenings and how you’re fulfilling your mission to connect donors with your fundraising goals.

2. Announce campaign launches

Donors and future donors want to hear about you – that’s why they sign up for your nonprofit’s email newsletter. Besides being able to engage with donors, your newsletter is a great way to raise money. 

Email messaging accounted for 13% of online revenue for nonprofits in 2018. So use this as a chance to tell them about your new campaign, and include a compelling call to action. Share photos, videos, and any content that will spark their curiosity and make them feel connected to your mission.

3. Document a work-in progress

You don’t have to wait for a campaign or a project to be completed to send updates. 

The best nonprofit emails are the ones that keep your supporters in the loop with campaign efforts – without spamming them. 

By providing real-time updates, upcoming events, and progress reports, your mission will be top of inbox and front-of-mind. Think of it like opening a little window into the day-to-day at your nonprofit. Give them a glimpse into what you’re working on. They will love feeling like they are part of it all.

4. Tell the story of the people you’re helping

Regardless of your cause, storytelling should be at the heart of all of your content marketing efforts. That’s because stories will help you engage emotionally with your readers, making your cause feel like their cause. 

As a nonprofit newsletter best practice, use impactful storytelling to catch their attention (and their heartstrings). 

Here your primary intention is to show your audience HOW their donations are making a difference. But don’t limit yourself to just text, remember the power a photo can have by putting a face to your cause.

5. Share your annual reports

You should always send your annual reports to donors. Besides offering proof that you are accountable and trustworthy, annual reports are a powerful tool to persuade an audience to support your cause.

Sharing this gives you the opportunity to:

  • Highlight achievements made possible by the funds raised 
  • Reinforce your mission by showcasing the difference you’re making in the community
  • Provide statistics related to your cause 
  • Add personal messaging to thank specific donors who had an impact during the previous year

Besides including this in your nonprofit email newsletter, you can also make these reports available on your website, letting readers know exactly where to find them through links in your newsletter.

6. Include a donor spotlight

Many nonprofits make the mistake of focusing only on acquiring new donors, putting existing donors on the backburner. The key to healthy donor stewardship is to build healthy relationships with new donors, so they turn into long-term, loyal supporters.

Donor spotlights are an easy and effective email newsletter technique to help with donor retention. Focus on people who have made a special contribution to your organization. Maybe it’s a high-level donor or a committed member of your community. 

The spotlight should demonstrate the achievements you’ve reached together. 

7. Share a testimonial

The nonprofit newsletter is an opportunity to talk about your everyday work, and sharing testimonials is an effective way to connect emotionally with readers and provide proof of the good work being done. Gather and share testimonials about an event you’ve organized or a campaign you’ve launched to encourage other people to get involved. 

8. Send personalized thank you’s 

As a nonprofit professional, thanking your donors should always be top-of-mind. 

Personalize your newsletter and boost donor retention by including a ‘thank you’ note in your newsletter. Thanking your audience is also an opportunity to nurture long-lasting relationships and warm donors up for a future ask. 

Your thank-you email templates can include major milestones, anniversaries or program launches. Anything that will give your readers something to feel good about. 

9. Share a survey

Does your nonprofit email newsletter help you get to know your readers as much as it helps them get to know you?

Surveys can help you learn more about the content and relationship your audience craves. 

Include your feedback request at the end of your newsletter, once people have read through your content. This will help you determine what your sending frequency should be.

10. Create a FAQ

You can repurpose FAQs in newsletters to respond to the needs of your audience. If donors regularly reach out with the same questions, you can include a brief list of questions and thoughtful answers in your newsletter. 

11. Feature an upcoming event

Let your audience know all the exciting details about your next event – location, special guests, fun activities… Convince them it’s not an event to be missed!

12. Share community events

The best nonprofit emails are the ones that have a community focus as well as information about your nonprofit organization.

As an industry insider, you’ll have access to resources your readers may not. So when you come across interesting information, articles or events – even if it’s not about you – you can share this with your supporters. If you spark interest, people will come to think of you as a reference for what’s happening inside your community.

13. Announce new partnerships

When relevant, let your audience know about any exciting partnerships as they happen. Donors will appreciate your openness and transparency. In addition, your partner will feel grateful for being featured in your newsletter.

14. Request to follow you on social

Donor engagement is all about relationships. To build meaningful relationships, you need to meet donors on multiple channels. Add a Follow Us section to your newsletter that includes all of your social media links. 

Adding social share buttons will help boost click-through rates as well.

15. Introduce your team 

Employee storytelling helps showcase your values and working culture and connect with your audience on a personal level. You can share a photo and short biography of a different team member in each newsletter.

16. Highlight your employee of the month 

Featuring your employee of the month is another way to humanize your organization. 

You will help supporters connect with your team while showcasing your employees’ top-notch work. This type of personal messaging works hard to nurture donor relationships and promote ongoing donations. 

17. Share a milestone

Is your nonprofit celebrating an anniversary or an important milestone? Share it in your newsletter and virtually invite your network to be part of the celebration. Give your readers insight into where you started, how they contributed to the milestone, and your gratitude. 

18. Disclose important changes in your organization

When exciting changes happen in your organization, don’t forget to share them with your email list. Invite them to be a part of the conversation. By making them feel like their input matters, you’ll go far in creating an engaged donor community. 

19. Take readers behind-the-scenes with photos

Give donors a look at your work culture by sending behind-the-scenes photos to build meaningful bonds. 

20. Share job postings

Is your organization hiring? The best place to scout for talent could through your email campaigns. After all, your donor community already shares your values and beliefs in your mission. If you’re actively looking for new team members, you can include a job posting section at the end of your email. You’ll likely find potential candidates among people who are interested in your work.

21. A letter from your Executive Director

Give updates from the top level of your organization. People reading your newsletter will feel they matter to you. You could also share a simple note of gratitude. A personal touch is always appreciated.

22. Volunteer Spotlight

Volunteers are a central part of your nonprofit. You can spotlight one volunteer who has shown special dedication to your cause or talk about the work of your volunteers in general. Volunteers will feel highly appreciated, and other supporters might want to join the team. Here’s a great example of Doctors without Borders spotlighting one of their donors who hosted a fundraising event for the organization where he sold his paintings. 

7 Free Thank You Letter Templates

23. Detail the story of your organization

Email subscribers are interested in your work, but they might not know the story behind your organization. Another nonprofit newsletter best practice is to clearly communicate your story to supporters. You can tell a piece of your story in each newsletter to keep them engaged throughout the month. 

24. Announce new hires

Any new hire this month? Let your network know your team is growing. This goes back to adding a personal element to your nonprofit newsletter.

25. Share a pet picture

People love pictures of furry creatures. There are linked psychological benefits for using animals – especially dogs – in marketing. Do you have a pet at your office? It’s pretty much a guarantee you’ll make your subscribers smile if you feature your office pet as a new team hire.

26. Include your lastest blog posts

If you don’t have a blog on your website, you’re missing out on a valuable method of engaging your followers. Read why you should definitely have a nonprofit blog to enhance your online presence. Once you have your blog up and running, your nonprofit newsletter becomes the perfect distribution platform to share your latest blog posts.

27. Create cool infographics

Making sure you stand out in your reader’s inbox can be a challenge. Using statistics or numbers in the subject line to grab people’s attention is an effective way to increase your open rates, but it’s even better if you can incorporate them into the body of your email as well. 

Infographics give an easy-to-understand visual view of a specific topic or recent campaign result. Here’s a guide to get you started. Or you can use a free tool like Canva to create cool infographics and share them with your email subscribers. 

28. Share blog posts from third parties

Everything that is relevant to your mission and supporters is worth a share. You should always serve fresh content to your network to keep them engaged. This works to strengthen relations with third parties in your community. Plus, you’re sharing their content with your readers, increasing their visibility. Perhaps once you’ve nurtured that relationship, they will return the favour, sharing your cause with a wider network.

29. Feature press

The newsletter is the perfect place to let your network know about press coverage. If you’re mentioned in publications or online platforms, it reinforces your trust and credibility.

30. Share your most recent youtube video

Did you just create an awesome video to tell the world about your mission? Your newsletter is an additional channel to share it.

31. Inspire your audience

Find positive and inspirational quotes from thoughtful personalities, and add a “Quote of the week” section to your newsletter. Again, you can easily make these with free tools like Canva.

32. Share your latest and most popular Instagram picture

Do you use Instagram to reach an active network of passionate people? Instagram is an excellent platform for visualizing your efforts and giving followers an inside look at what goes on at your nonprofit organization. With so much great content being posted, don’t contain it to just Instagram. Think of it as additional content you can share into your newsletter

33. Recommend a book, movie, or podcast 

Incorporating personal messaging goes back to nurturing your audience’s curiosity. Sharing relevant and interesting resources will help boost your newsletter as a great source of information as well as humanize the writer behind the email campaigns.

34. Include holiday content

On special occasions, you can give a festive mood to your newsletter. For instance, you can build a themed newsletter on Giving Tuesday. Without betraying your brand, you can change your regular design and content to match the giving season. 

35. Add a “Did you know…?” section

Create a brief section to share an interesting fact or statistics related to your cause. Your email subscribers will continue to engage with your content if they’re learning from you.

6 nonprofit newsletter examples 

We’ve compiled some of our favourite email newsletters to inspire your own campaigns. 

Send better nonprofit emails with Keela 

We covered a lot of ideas for your nonprofit newsletter. Now, choosing the right content depends on what your audience wants to see and the work you do. Keela will help you maximize your donor communication and send emails your readers will love.   By building smart lists and tracking your donors’ behavior, it’s easier than ever to get in front of the eyes of your supporters. With Keela, you’ll spend less time on emails and raise more money for your upcoming projects.  

Are you ready to learn more?