Email is usually the primary mode of communication for nonprofits and there’s a reason for that. It’s fast, easy, relatively inexpensive, and almost everyone has an email address. You can quickly get a message out to a lot of people.
But guess what? You’re not the one sending email. People get hundreds of emails a day plus messages from other sources such as social media. It’s information overload on steroids right now and much of it is just noise.
Here’s how you can rise above the noise and make your email messages stand out.
What’s your intention?
What’s the purpose of your message? What do you want your reader to do? Maybe it’s to donate, volunteer, attend an event, or contact her legislators. Maybe you’re sharing an update.
Think from your reader’s perspective. What would she be interested in or what would make him take action?
Keep it simple and stick to one call to action.
Pay attention to your subject line
A good subject line is the key to getting someone to open your email message. If he doesn’t bother to open it, your hard work has gone to waste.
Give some thought to it. Instead of Donate to our Annual Appeal or May 2017 Newsletter, try Find out how you can help Gina learn to read or Thanks to you, the Miller family can put food on the table tonight.
Short and sweet
Just because someone has opened your email message, doesn’t mean she’ll read it. Keep her interested. Remember your email is one of hundreds your reader will receive that day. Make it short, but engaging, and get to the point right away.
Make it easy to read and scan
Besides sending a short message, use short paragraphs, too. It needs to be easy to read (and scan) in an instant. Don’t use micro-sized font either.
Be personal and conversational
Write directly to your reader using clear, conversational language – no jargon. Address your message to a person – Dear Susan and not Dear Friend.
Use an email service provider that lets you segment your lists so you can personalize your messages. For example, you’ll create different messages for current donors, potential donors, and lapsed donors.
Send your email to the right audience
You may want to reach out to tons of people about an upcoming event, but you’ll have better luck concentrating on people who will be interested, such as past attendees. Just because email lets you communicate with a large audience, doesn’t mean you should. Otherwise, you’re just generating more noise.
Be a welcome visitor
If you communicate regularly and do it well, your readers should recognize you as a reputable source and are more likely to read your message.
Make sure people know your message is coming from your organization. In the from field, put DoGood Nonprofit or Sarah Wilson, DoGood Nonprofit. If you just put a person’s name or email@example.com, people may not know who it’s from and ignore your message.
Create a no spam zone
Only send email to people who have opted into your list. Otherwise, you’re spamming them. Some people will choose not to receive email from you, and that’s okay. The ones who do are interested in hearing from you. Give people the option to unsubscribe, too.
Once is not enough
If you’re using email to send a fundraising appeal or event invitation, you’ll probably have to send more than one message. Try not to send messages to people who have already responded.
Be mobile friendly
Many people read their email on a mobile device. If your message isn’t mobile friendly, you’re missing out.
Your email messages can stand out and not become part of the noise if you give some thought to them and do it well. Here’s more information about communicating by email.