Smithsonian e-newsletter

I’ve seen so many bad nonprofit newsletters. And some really good ones!

What sets the good ones apart?

For example, Pesticide Action Network. Their newsletter is ALWAYS interesting, and ALWAYS full of useful advice, even when the topic may seem dry or hopeless (like bee colony collapse). I’ve included an example from the Smithsonian e-newsletter as well. I got so many this month that I deleted most of them, but these two, I kept.


Here’s a recipe for you to make your e-newsletters stand apart from other, boring nonprofit newsletters.

Recipe for a super nonprofit e-newsletter


1. Big, high quality color pictures

2. Clear captions and alt text on your pictures, like “USDA Suppressing Bee Science?” or “11 Reasons to love bacteria, spores and fungi”

3. A beautiful quote that encourages people to give or to think of their higher values, like “Truth never damages a cause that is just” -Mahatma Ghandi. If you’d like some quotes to get started with, head on over here to the Inspiring Generosity book. It will give you some beauts for your newsletter!


4. Small, simple paragraphs with Read More underneath that link to your blog posts.

5. Single column newsletter, because a lot of people are reading this on their phone, and this looks better in a phone layout than a multi-column newsletter.

6. Make it an HTML email with a plain text version, NOT a pdf. NOT a big picture of a pdf, either. Making your e-newsletter one big picture with a couple words at the bottom doesn’t really work either. Think about the people who are going to be enabling pictures, and those who don’t enable pictures. you can’t MAKE them enable pictures so,

7. Make sure each picture has good alt text as well.

8. Don’t just look for stories of what your nonprofit is doing. Be like the Smithsonian, look for stories in the media that relate to what your nonprofit is doing or your nonprofit’s values. This will make your nonprofit more relevant for people when they see you referencing the latest headlines.



Let sit for at least one week before sending

You might find some typos, have someone else at the organization look it over, and just generally see if there’s a cleaner, simpler way to convey what you’re saying.

Serve to every supporter on your mailing list, with a big smile, once or twice a month.

You can learn from the Smithsonian! Check out their interesting articles and get inspired!


Smithsonian enewsletter December 2015