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E-News 2.0

This article is a continuation from November’s issue of DMAW AdVents.


Let’s quickly recap, shall we? Email newsletters are often overlooked and under-appreciated, but the truth is that nearly every (perhaps every!) successful digital fundraising program includes the e-newsletter to some extent. Whether it’s monthly, quarterly or even annually, it’s important to provide your donors and activists with engaging, informative content.

E-news as engagement

Take the time to evaluate the content that your audience responds to. Look for trends in subject lines, types of links clicked, website pages visited, search terms used — and balance your e-news content accordingly.

Wounded Warrior Project recently made some adjustments to its e-newsletter designed to increase audience engagement, which resulted in significant improvement in its open and click rates. Prioritizing engagement over fundraising for your e-news may cause short-term decreases in revenue, but it’s a worthwhile long-term investment in donor cultivation and retention.

As you can see in the below example, the newsletter still accomplishes a number of priorities – program highlights,  news updates, partner promotion and even events.


Example provided by CDR Fundraising Group.

What do you think? What other nonprofits do a really good job of engagement with their e-news?

Responsive design

It’s a simple concept  — designing your emails so they will look good on any device or computer. In practice though, responsive design requires additional time, investment and quality control to execute well. With 50 percent (or more!) of email being opened on a mobile device, it’s essential that your e-newsletter be formatted correctly.

There are many great examples of excellent responsive design in our space – here’s one from SOS Children’s Villages-US!

SOS Example

Example provided by PS Digital

Emergency Donor Optimization

Anyone who’s worked with a disaster relief-related nonprofit knows the challenges associated with ‘emergency donors.’ Donors flock to give during a hurricane, tsunami, or other large tragedies, often without a strong affinity for the charity. What happens next can be the difference of exponential growth or disappointing and expensive 2nd gift conversion testing.

Unicef did a great job with this following the earthquake in Haiti. A year after the earthquake in Haiti, Unicef provided links to an update on the challenges faced by the ‘earthquake generation,’ a place to upload a video of support, social sharing options and a Haiti-specific monthly giving request in their e-newsletter.


Unicef Example


What’s your favorite e-news technique?


Heather Marsh the principal of Tree Swing Strategy ( Reach her at