Email and E-Newsletters

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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Last month I reached out for your input on what makes an e-newsletter effective and received some great feedback and models. Thank you. Then I integrated your take into my curriculum for a workshop I ran a for nonprofits in the NY metro area.

Here’s the most important thing I learned from you — e-newsletters remain a winner among nonprofit marketing channels, far ahead of social media at this point. So it’s important that you do it right.

In thanks for your help, I want to share the core guidelines that were the framework of the live workshop, via this slide deck summary.

Breakthrough Nonprofit E-Newsletters

But I know there are other key strategies for increasing the impact of e-newsletters, and I hope you’ll share what works for you.  Please comment below or email me directly.

P.S. Get more in-depth articles, case studies and guides to nonprofit marketing (and video) success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.
<div style=”width:425px” id=”__ss_4317204″><strong style=”display:block;margin:12px 0 4px”><a href=”” title=”Breakthrough Nonprofit E-Newsletters”>Breakthrough Nonprofit E-Newsletters</a></strong><object id=”__sse4317204″ width=”425″ height=”355″><param name=”movie” value=”” /><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”/><param name=”allowScriptAccess” value=”always”/><embed name=”__sse4317204″ src=”” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”425″ height=”355″></embed></object><div style=”padding:5px 0 12px”>View more <a href=””>presentations</a> from <a href=””>GettingAttention</a>.</div></div>

Nancy Schwartz on May 27, 2010 in Email and E-Newsletters | 2 comments
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I’d appreciate your help. I’m finishing up a presentation on high-impact nonprofit e-newsletters, to be delivered next week to a group of NY metro area organizations.

The participants range widely in their nonprofit marketing expertise, as they do in their interests and needs on the topic. Always the case, right?

A reliable strategy I use to make a workshop valuable for those of diverse experience levels is integrating many case studies. Everyone can learn from them, no matter their level of experience. So I ask…

What are the top two e-newsletters you get from nonprofit orgs, and what makes each one successful? Please comment by clicking the comments link under this post or email me directly.

Thanks much for your input! In a few weeks, I’ll share out the list you provide of  great nonprofit e-newsletters and the keys to their success.

P.S. Learn how to strengthen your e-newsletter here:

Nancy Schwartz on May 7, 2010 in Email and E-Newsletters | 1 comment
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How to Retain Readers wChange of E-News Service Provider Need Your Ideas

Readers of the Getting Attention e-update (twice-monthly, in-depth articles and case studies, subscribe here) know that I’m about to change to a new email service provider (ESP).

There’s much more to that process than I ever imagined. With 14,000 readers nurtured over the years, I want to ensure they all continue to get the e-updates:

  • Primary concern — E-updates from the new ESP going into readers’ spam filters! They need to add my email and the ESP’s domain into their approved emails or whitelist to prevent that.
  • Secondary concern — I’m shifting from all-text to HTML format, so the e-update will look radically different. I don’t want readers to delete, note as spam or ignore because of the significant difference in look.

Here’s my approach to motivating readers to do what it takes to ensure uninterrupted receipt of the e-updates:

  1. Craft a series of four emails, to be delivered via the old ESP, on the change and recommended actions.Two to be delivered before the transition, two after.
  2. Write clear and urgent email subject linesAction Required to Maintain Your Subscription
  3. Make the emails as easy-to-digest (and act on) as possible! One sweet reader called me after receiving yesterday’s first in the series, and advised me to make the next much shorter and focused solely on what needs to be done!
  4. Build familiarity with the new look, so readers recognize it on receipt, with a link to the new format.
  5. Supplement emails with social media outreach via Getting Attention blog, Facebook page and twitter feed.

But what else can I do to ensure that readers know what’s coming, and do what they need to do to keep the e-updates coming? Please submit your recommendations in the Comments field below or by emailing me directly. I’ll feature them in a follow up post. Thanks.

P.S.I know that the some readers will hate the change announcement email series and unsubscribe. They would have done so anyway.

Nancy Schwartz on September 23, 2009 in Email and E-Newsletters, Nonprofit Communications | 2 comments
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