4 Simple Steps to Creating Great Nonprofit Email Content

Not all nonprofits have graphic designers, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still create graphic designs worthy email templates. Creating great email content doesn’t just mean writing great content (that’s an important component), but it also means having a great subject line, engaging images, and productive calls. Below are four steps to help you consistently create beautiful, engaging, and productive emails.

1. Determine your message and goal.

Whether it’s a newsletter, a fundraising email, or a simple transactional email, it’s important that you’re sending the right message to the right person at the right time. Instead of sending the same content over and over again, be studious and do your homework. Know the last time somebody received an email, when they’ve donated, how much they’ve donated, and tailor your message using that information. This can be done with segmentation, dynamic content, or automation, which we’ll cover in later posts.

2. Capture your supporters’ interest with great micro-content.

Once you know what type of email you’re going to send to your subscribers, it’s time to make sure you capture recipients’ attention. Micro-content is the content that makes a subscriber open your email; it’s what they skim to get an idea of what the message is about. Every email should have these 3 pieces of micro-content:

  • The Subject Line: This will be the first thing your reader sees and a determining factor to whether or not you get that open. The best subject lines are usually short, expressive, and personalized. Make sure you test every subject line.
  • Email Headings and Subheadings:  Once you get the reader to open your email, now it’s time to get them to read. This is what your headlines are for. Grab your supporters’ attention with exciting headlines and convince them to read on and engage with your calls to action.
  • A Consistent Header: It’s important that you maintain consistency in your emails. Check out our 4 Components of a Resusable Header post to learn more.

3. Have a conversation with your supporter.

Now that you’ve used your micro-content to capture the interest of your supporter, it’s time to write your email’s content.

  • The tone of your email should be friendly and casual, like how you’d talk to a friend or colleague.
  • Don’t write a novel — make your message short and sweet. If you’re updating them on a specific issue, include a “learn more” or “read on” link at the bottom of the page so you can give the reader an opportunity to go more in depth without bombarding them with information right away.
  • Dynamically populate the content. This will give your message a more personalized feel. Use their first name, the amount they contributed (specifically for a Thank You email), and any other personal information you may have acquired (Personalization Docs).

4. Use images properly.

Images and visuals are a vital part of your email marketing strategy. Images bring your templates to life, making each email visually engaging to the recipient. But there is a fine line between visually appealing and visually crowded, so make sure not to cross it when creating your template. Don’t use too many images in your emails, and don’t venture too far away from your brand or the message. Instead, provide relevant images to complement the message you’re trying to send (Image Best Practices).


Designing email templates doesn’t have to be a time-consuming chore. Follow these steps, use templates as a starting point, and you’ll be sending out great looking emails before you know it.

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