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Is your Charity Making the Most of Email?

  • If your local charity doesn’t send a regular email newsletter, you’re probably missing a trick. And did you know that email newsletters can also help you with your local promotion and publicity?

    The importance of email

    Email is used by over 75% of UK adults, with the vast majority using it every week. This makes it still more popular than all social media platforms put together (60-65% of adults).

    Although we may complain about getting too many emails, we do appreciate hearing from organisations we like.

    If you’re able to collect a supporter’s email address, it’s better for you than if they ‘like’ you on Facebook or ‘follow’ you on Twitter. Email gives you permission to get your message directly into their inbox. Your subscribers are likely to see your email (even if they choose not to open it). In contrast, they may well not see your Facebook post as Facebook doesn’t always show your post to everyone who likes your page. Your Twitter followers are also likely to miss your tweets if they’re not using Twitter around the time you tweet.

    Businesses regularly report that email gives them the highest payback out of all the marketing methods they use.

    Writing a great email newsletter

    Write a good subject title and compose a couple of ‘stories’ for your email newsletter. Start with the story that is likely to be the most relevant and interesting. Good subject titles are titles which make people want to open your email. Avoid titles such as 'March e-newsletter' as this isn't compelling. Use titles such as '3 things that inspired us this month'.

    Because an email newsletter tool allows people to unsubscribe if they’re not enjoying your newsletter, you can relax. You know that you’re writing for people who want to hear from you. So write your emails as you would write to a friend.

    Using an email newsletter tool

    I recommend using an email newsletter tool that's designed for bulk emailing, instead of using your personal email account.

    An email newsletter tool will make your emails look better, allowing you to include images in-line with the text. It will allow you to send all your emails at once, make sure they all get safely delivered, and show you statistics on who has opened your emails. It will also make it easy for people to sign up to your emails and, just as importantly, to unsubscribe. 

    But email newsletter tools can sometimes be hard to use. Most have been designed for marketing professionals, rather than for volunteers or those of us for whom digital marketing is only a tiny fraction of our role. 

    That’s why we’ve built one that’s as easy to use as your own email account. Our email tool is for small charities and community groups who don’t have a dedicated marketing person. We've made it simple, stripping out all the unnecessary advanced features.

    We’ve also made it easy to re-use and share whatever you write for your email newsletter instantly on social media. This means you don’t need to write anything twice, and you’re always encouraging people to subscribe to your email list.

    Joining an email newsletter network

    An email newsletter network such as interests.me can help you get extra local publicity and awareness. Your charity joins an email newsletter network together with other local groups and charities. Then, any stories you want to share become available for other groups to use in their own emails.

    Local networks have their own website, where local charities can share stories. An example is Woking.interests.me in Surrey.

    You can also share other groups’ stories in your emails. If you're worried that you might not have enough to say in your emails, this helps you build up your content and collaborate with other local groups.

    If there isn’t an interests.me newsletter network in your area, email me at helen@interests.me to find out how to create one! Our networks are often co-ordinated and promoted by Councils for Voluntary Service or Libraries in a local area.

    Helen Cammack is one of the founders of interests.me, after she found herself frustrated with spending too much time on managing the communications for local non profit organisations. She believes every organisation, no matter how small, deserves great digital tools. Previously Helen worked at Virgin Media and founded a deals email business called Buyometric.

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