6 Enewsletter Ideas to Help Retain Donors | npENGAGE

6 Enewsletter Ideas to Help Retain Donors

By on Feb 12, 2013


Chuck Longfield recently presented and wrote about the difficulty of finding and retaining donors, describing how 3 out of every 4 new donors are not retained.

While nonprofits are challenged with retaining donors, one overlooked cultivation tool may be the Enewsletter.

Many nonprofits send one on a regular basis. And although the enewsletter can present challenges of it’s own – time commitment, content creation – the right type of enewsletter content can help strengthen donor relationships.

And that will help when it comes time for their next ask.

Here are 6 enewsletter ideas to help cultivate and retain donors:

  1. Report back on the impact of donations

    Too often, nonprofits aren’t sure what to write. Too often, donors don’t hear about the outcome of their gifts. Hmmm.

    Regularly include how donations were used. You’ll be “reporting back” to donors. You’ll also show non-donors that gifts are well-spent, which may help get their first gift.

  2. Include more stories

    Skip the bio of your new staff member and your executive director’s intro, and include more success stories. Stories bring your mission to life. They help people better understand why donations are needed.

    Don’t assume subscribers saw your Facebook post or have read the stories on your website. Include them in your enewsletter.

  3. Use dynamic content for different audiences

    Each enewsletter is an opportunity to again thank and cultivate important audiences. Acknowledge recent donors again. Tell event attendees “we couldn’t have done it without you!” Deliver personalized messages to different audiences.

    Email tools that are integrated with your CRM, like Blackbaud NetCommunity, will let you dynamically alter content for different audiences. I’ve also seen nonprofits have great success tailoring the introductory story by audience.

  4. Understand what your subscribers are telling you

    Review your enewsletter stats to see what links subscribers clicked on the most. This may be a good indicator of what topics your subscribers want to hear more about. And if your subscribers feel your content is relevant to them, they’ll read your enewsletter more often.

  5. Better social media cross-promotion

    To engage subscribers on another channel, do more than just include social media links. Briefly tell them what they’ll find valuable or why they should care. For example:

    • Facebook: latest photos & stories
    • Twitter: announcements, related news
    • YouTube: event & program videos
  6. Put your sidebar on the right

Unless you’re using responsive design or a very narrow width, Android phones are cutting off about one-third your newsletter on the right side.  So if you use a left sidebar, people will likely have to scroll horizontally on each line to read your story. Which they won’t do for long.

Use a right sidebar instead. Since people also read email newsletters left-to-right, your stories will catch their attention instead of the sidebar items.

Please share below any successes you’ve had cultivating and retaining donors using your enewsletter.


Mike Snusz brings 18 years of fundraising experience to his role as a Senior Team Lead on Blackbaud’s Professional Services team. He leads a team of digital consultants and works with nonprofits to improve their digital fundraising, monthly giving, email marketing and peer-to-peer fundraising programs. Prior to Blackbaud, Mike managed the turnaround of the Ride For Roswell from 2003 to 2005 in his hometown of Buffalo, NY. When he’s not contemplating fundraising, Mike enjoys hide and seek, tag, and dance parties with his two kids.

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