Email and E-Newsletters

sotelo_yeseniaGuest blogger Yesenia Sotelo founded Smart Cause Digital where she builds and grows smart websites.

“Email is dead. No one reads their email anymore.”
You might have heard this before and you might hear it again—but not from me! Email is one of the most powerful tools available. In fact, every organization (including yours),  regardless of its size or mission, can do great things with an email list.

“Email is dead! Long live social media!”
I love social media almost as much as I love email. There’s plenty of proof of my love over on Twitter and Instagram. But social media is NOT (yet?) a replacement for email marketing. Email and social media are complementary and they should *both* be in your nonprofit’s toolkit.

Take these three steps to turn your organization’s website into an email-capturing machine…


Guest Blogger on April 10, 2014 in Email and E-Newsletters | 1 comment
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Gmail Inbox Tabs

Beware the deadly Promotions Tab, the latest “improvement” for Gmail users! That’s what communicators like us have have been sweating about in the past few weeks.

In case you haven’t heard, Google is now automatically filtering Gmail users’ email messages to pre-defined content tabs. They’re sending emails from friends and family to the Primary Inbox (where we’re used to looking all the time), and sending most e-newsletters and other emails from organizations (including the Getting Attention blog and e-news) to the new (secondary by default) Promotions tab.

If you’re a Gmail user, you won’t see Getting Attention and other content you rely on in the location it’s always been in (Inbox). And, if you’re not aware of this change, you may not see it at all. But far worse, members of your organization’s email list who use Gmail addresses are no longer seeing your emails in their Primary inboxes.  

Take a deep breath! Most of us have been setting up filters for years now to sort the mass of emails we receive on a daily basis.

This change is going to impact your organization’s ability to interact with your supporters and partners. Email vendor MailChimp reported that open rates were down right after the change. But take these four actions right now to make sure users who want to read your content will find and read it:


Nancy Schwartz on August 7, 2013 in Email and E-Newsletters | 1 comment
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Getting your emails opened is the most crucial part of your email campaign. Without that, there’s no hope of motivating the action your organization needs.

When I opened my email this morning to the usual overflow, my eyes were drawn immediately to this short but powerful subject line—Our Son Trayvon. I opened the email immediately.


Nancy Schwartz on March 22, 2012 in Email and E-Newsletters | 0 comments

Welcome to our newest guest blogger, Kerri Karvetski. As owner of Company K Media, Kerri helps nonprofits communicate online.

Email subject lines have one main job—to get your email opened. You have two seconds to grab your reader’s attention. That’s a lot of pressure. So avoid these avoidable mistakes.

Guest Blogger on March 7, 2012 in Email and E-Newsletters | 2 comments
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Invest three hours to learn how to use e-newsletters to grow and engage your organization’s base of donors, volunteers, program participants and more. Email remains the core communications tool, and one that’s going to be around for the long run. But you have to use it right!

Please join me for Breakthrough E-Newsletters: 5 Steps to Shaping E-Communications that Connect, Thursday, February 16, 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM in New York City.

Nancy Schwartz on February 6, 2012 in Email and E-Newsletters | 0 comments
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Guest blogger Holly Ross has spent seven+ years at the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), working with community members to identify technology trends that are reshaping the nonprofit sector. Brett Meyer, NTEN Communications Director, co-authored this post.

As nonprofits have flocked to the e-newsletter as an inexpensive and timely way to communicate with stakeholders, the number of newsletter tips has also proliferated. While subject lines, “from” addresses, and your template design are all important, they aren’t the biggest challenge to putting out a quality newsletter.  The most difficult part is creating good content, content your subscribers want to read.


Guest Blogger on December 1, 2011 in Content Marketing, Email and E-Newsletters | 1 comment
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I promise you it’ll be an incredibly worthwhile three hours when you do.

In Breakthrough E-Newsletters: 5 Steps to Shaping E-Communications that Connect, you’ll learn everything you need to get a high-impact e-newsletter going for your nonprofit, or to strengthen the one you have.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Define realistic goals for your e-newsletter and who you have to reach to achieve them
  • Shape the right approach—content, style, how much interactivity with readers
  • Design the most effective delivery—frequency, “look and feel”
  • Master the mechanics—opt-in vs. double opt-in, list management, in-house vs. outsource
  • Promote your e-newsletter to get the most from your effort

Best of all, you’ll walk out of the workshop with a practical, doable plan for your e-news launch or revision, ready to be implemented!

Register right now; just a few seats left.

P.S. Get more in-depth case studies, templates and tools, and guidance for nonprofit marketing success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz on May 10, 2011 in Email and E-Newsletters | 0 comments
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nonprofit communications

Q: Is it necessary (or valuable) to include a caveat at the end of emails coming from our organization?

Dear Nancy,

I enjoy reading the Getting Attention e-update and am glad to have an opportunity to improve our communications practice.

Here’s the issue: I notice some of my colleagues here add this multi-line caveat at the end of their emails:

This email, and any attachment, is confidential. If you have received this message in error, please return to sender and delete from your machine. The views expressed in this message are not necessarily those of the Minnesota Council of Churches, members or affiliates.

What’s your take on where this sort of information belongs, if it belongs at all?


Emily (Emily Jarrett Hughes, Assistant Director of Organizational Development, Minnesota Council of Churches)

A: Less is more, particularly in online nonprofit communications, Emily.  The more “extra” content in an email, the more distraction from the key points conveyed.

However, it’s not a black-and-white situation, Emily.  If your legal advisors require use of a caveat, it should be used consistently – by all staff members in every email.

I’m no lawyer but what I do know is that extra verbiage like that in use by some of your colleagues just gets in the way of effective email communication. There are three different points made here:

  • The email is confidential. But what does that even mean?
  • The email should be returned if sent to the wrong recipient. Really? I doubt you receive emails returned due to the directive in the caveat.
  • The views expressed in the email are those of the individual, not the Council, members or affiliates.

If there is a good reason to integrate such a caveat into emails, do it cross-organization, in every email and make it as short as possible. In the Council’s case, Emily, I bet that this third element (on views) is the point of concern. If so, work with your legal team to cut the other verbiage and get to the point.

P.S. Pithy messages that get to the point are a priority for all organizations and the prerequisite for motivating your base to act. Learn how to craft the most essential message — your tagline. Download the Nonprofit Tagline Report, filled with must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 2,500+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz on June 2, 2010 in Email and E-Newsletters | 0 comments
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