Marketing & communications

5 Tips for Uber-Engaging Charity Email Newsletters

Alex Fearon offers her top tips for creating a stand-out newsletter.

Let’s be honest, most email newsletters are a total snoozefest. All too often, they feel like a one-way broadcast full of dry updates and relentless asks — and then we wonder why our appeal emails don’t perform better. 

But your charity’s newsletter has heaps of potential to build deeper connections with supporters and move them along their journey with you. 

As someone who’s helped dozens of charities uplevel their communications, I’m excited to share five simple tips that’ll transform your newsletter from a monthly obligation into one of your charity’s core community-building tools. 

Segment From Day One 

You wouldn’t treat all your supporters the same in person, so don’t commit that rookie mistake with email, either! From the moment someone opts in, start gathering insights about their motivations, interests and capacity to give. Use that data to bucket your audiences into defined segments you can speak to in a personalised way. Your donors will feel seen and valued, which in a busy inbox is absolutely key. My favourite question to ask to gauge if charities are segmenting their emails effectively is this: Would someone read this and think, “Organisation X really know me. They’ve listened and care.”? 

Make It Personal 

Which would you rather receive – a generic leaflet through your letterbox or a personal note from a friend? Your newsletter’s voice and tone should feel like the latter. Use a warm, conversational style with plenty of “you” and “your” language. Share real-life examples and behind-the-scenes glimpses. And wherever possible, have an actual person’s name in the “From” field, not just your charity’s name. If your organisation already implements this tip, be bold and take it to the next level: send an email from a different person in your world like a volunteer. 

Design It For Mobile

Most of your supporters are probably reading your emails on their phones nowadays. So make sure your design follows a clean, single-column layout with larger fonts, plenty of whitespace and big juicy buttons. Ditch anything fancy like image sliders or complicated nested tables – they just won’t render properly on small screens. Don’t forget to preview your emails on dark mode too!

Share Stories, Not Updates

Let’s be honest: reading about your charity’s “achievements” or operational updates is pretty dry stuff. Instead, use your newsletter to spotlight the real-life people and communities you’re supporting. Share powerful visuals and authentic stories that showcase the impact of donors’ giving. Make your readers the hero, not your organisation. 

Ask For Input 

The best way to boost engagement is to, well…engage your readers! Don’t just broadcast. Instead, pose questions, run polls, invite feedback and start conversations. And wherever you can, encourage readers to click through to your website or social channels to continue the interaction there. Treat your newsletter like a two-way dialogue. 

There you have it – five tips to make your charity’s email newsletters irresistible! Craft content that feels like personal outreach, and you’ll see your open rates and click rates soar. 

Want more field-tested strategies to uplevel your comms? Join me at The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Charity Conference to dive deeper!

Alex will be running a session at The Ultimate Guide to Marketing your Charity conference on Wednesday 26 June. Learn more and book here.