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Using donor management software to craft effective email newsletters

Donor management software ensures that a nonprofit knows its audience well enough to write personalized, passionate newsletters geared toward supporters’ precise interests. Email newsletters are a fantastic way for nonprofits to reach their audience. Tailoring prose to the specific views of donors and volunteers creates meaningful relationships that are much likelier to last.

For the first time in the four-year history of the 2015 Nonprofit Trend Report, keeping donors is more important to nonprofits than recruiting them. In addition to donor retention, nonprofits are primarily focusing on community engagement and brand awareness, all goals that may be effectively addressed via e-newsletters.

How does a nonprofit approach writing e-newsletters?

E-newsletters help nonprofits retain donors.

Knowing the audience
The most important rule is that supporters voluntarily subscribe, said nonprofit digital marketing expert John Haydon. The point of e-newsletters is not to cast a wide net over anyone who can possibly be recruited as a supporter – that strategy is likelier to turn off potential donors. Instead, letters should address existing donors, with the purpose of nurturing a continued connection.

“Email newsletters nurture a continued connection with donors.”

Nonprofits can use StudioCRM to track whether donors have already been invited to subscribe, and whether they’d like to be. Once supporters have opted in, StudioEnterprise can streamline the email process through automation – this also means no risk of typing errors resulting in returned or erroneously-sent emails.

Prompting Attention
Subject lines hold a lot of weight in reaching readers, stated the Storytelling Nonprofit. It could be a donor spotlight, a call-to-action, a news title or even an announcement of new online store items.

A specific snippet or summary lets the subscriber know whether he or she is interested in clicking on a particular email. Again, here’s where a nonprofit can use software analytics to find out which emails have the highest open rate. In turn, this will help identify which content is most effective.

Beyond the subject line, an email’s first sentence can more specifically identify the audience. Is this newsletter crafted for those interested in missionary work? Perhaps there are stories pertinent for new members of a church. Maybe the newsletter includes content of interest to parents of missionaries.

This is another key data point that can be managed by StudioCRM and StudioAnalytics, making it easy for a charitable nonprofit to hone in on what matters most to supporters.

Building familiarity
Amid all the focus on data and numbers, newsletter writers should not forget the significance of being consistent with written format. If supporters see a general theme among subject lines, they’ll know what to expect and feel a sense of familiarity with the charitable organization. They’ll immediately recognize a monthly email instead of filtering it into the spam folder.

Newsletters should directly address readers with the use of the second person voice. This personalization is yet another way to let supporters know how much they matter to the organization.

Once writers have secured the attention of the reader, they can move on to the critical part: Content.

Crafting content
Writing specific, personalized appeals to a broad audience can be challenging. The good news is that an organization is writing to people who already agree with their charitable mission. Individual supporters now want to know how to continue aiding the nonprofit.

Listing particular actions is one way for a nonprofit writer to encourage reader involvement. It’s all right to go with the obvious request for taking action – that is, to give a donation or to volunteer for a fundraiser. These expected requests won’t be enough to sustain audience engagement, though.

Solicitations for support should not be the primary focus for an e-newsletter. Instead, charitable organizations should be delivering news articles and stories that focus on positive outcomes of supporter involvement. Donors and volunteers, not the organization, need to be at the center of the writing.

Donor management software can help pinpoint the content necessary to keep allies’ attention. Using StudioAnalytics’ media management tools, a nonprofit can easily check click rate numbers for each e-newsletters. They can then look for patterns between the emails that received the most traffic, to figure out trends in what captures donors’ presence.

Ann Green pointed out that these tools can also manage a database of potential newsletter content, such as fundraising success stories.

Ensuring easy readability
Above all else, all e-newsletters should be mobile-friendly. Otherwise, they’re headed for instant deletion.

Reading newsletters shouldn’t be hard work. Writers should take care to limit the word count of emails. If e-newsletters are making the monthly rounds, it’s a good idea to include no more than four articles, suggested Ann Green.

Solicit feedback
Some supporters might prefer reading shorter, more frequent e-newsletters. They might also like to see more of one type of news, such as stories of successful missionary work. A nonprofit won’t know everything subscribers want without directly asking them.

“Email newsletters should be mobile- friendly.”

It’s doubly important to act on the feedback of supporters. StudioCRM’s Comprehensive Donor Profile manages notes from surveys and other communications, enabling nonprofits to answer the needs of their advocates.

Give gratitude a strong presence
Including a word of thanks is likely second nature for most letter writers. It’s critical to remember, though, that not all readers will wade through an entire newsletter. Some will read the first story, and some will skim for words that pique their interest. Incorporating notes of thanks – or conveying a grateful tone – throughout the newsletter means the best possible outcome for reaching an audience.