12 August 2019

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Tips & Tricks

Articles to give you more insight into newsletter marketing

We’ve all been there. Supporters are expecting that blog post tomorrow, and you’re staring at a blank screen. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the furthest thing from your mind. There’s a lot of apprehension for many nonprofits around the benefits of keeping up with a blog, much less working toward SEO for blogs. Writing is hard, it takes time, and it’s easy to prioritize other more pressing tasks above something like a blog.

I’m not intentionally trying to make your life more difficult, I promise. When combined with the magic that is SEO, a blog can bring a ton of search traffic to your nonprofit’s website. And, once you have the research part out of the way, it only adds a little extra time to your process.

Before You Can Use SEO for Blogs

Let’s not get too terribly far ahead of ourselves. Before you can use search engine optimization to increase blog traffic, you’ll need to get your hands on some SEO research. While it’s possible to do this yourself, it requires a good deal of background knowledge so learning the process could be a fairly big time commitment. Luckily, there are lots of organizations who can provide some support, which is what we do with our nonprofit-specific traffic growth engagements.

Unbranded Search

When I talk about unbranded search, I mean those new visitors that arrive on your website through a search that didn’t include your organization’s name. To make the most of SEO for blogs and attract visitors who’ve not heard of your organization, unbranded search is your best bet.

Your SEO research is bound to have keyword options that would be great to rank for but won’t work naturally within page content on your website. But the blog is a different story. You can post as often as you like, centering each post around one keyword. Each individual post then has the potential to appear in search results on Google or other search engines. Longer, hyper-specific keywords that describe what you do and how you help make excellent blog posts.

Think about it. If your nonprofit runs an after-school program for underprivileged children, wouldn’t you want someone searching for “help low-income kids succeed” to find you? Unbranded search can bring in those potential supporters. They already care about your cause or are curious about topics that you have some expertise on. They simply had no idea who you were so they didn’t know to include your organization’s name in their search.

Optimizing a Blog Post

To get the most out of a keyword in a blog post, you’ll want to go the extra mile to optimize the post for that specific keyword. That means including it (exactly and completely) in as many of the following places as you can.

  • Page name
  • URL
  • Heading
  • First paragraph
  • Content (at least four times)
  • Meta description
  • Alt attributes of an image

That’s not so bad, is it? If the keyword presents a good opportunity and you can fit it into all of these places, you’ll start showing up in search engines and increase blog traffic before you know it. Try it out, and see the real difference it can make to boost the right kind of traffic to your nonprofit’s website.

Have you tried optimizing your blog posts for search engines? Do you have any questions on how SEO for blogs works to increase traffic? Ask away in the comments below!

Email newsletters continue to offer a steady stream of website traffic for many nonprofits. But what if you could up your email game by employing nonprofit newsletter best practices and drive even more traffic to your site? These are people who’ve already shown their passion for your cause and requested regular updates. Make the most of these supporters by driving them to your nonprofit website to complete important calls to action.

Nonprofit Newsletter Best Practices

In general, your nonprofit’s newsletters should be a useful and concise recap of what’s happened since the last update. Keeping in that line of thought, nonprofit newsletter best practices tell us to send these puppies regularly, at the same day and time, in regular intervals. You want your supporters to know that they can count on you, and this regularity and familiarity helps to achieve that confidence.

Though every nonprofit is different, the goals of your email newsletters are going to be fairly similar across the board. We want to build a community among supporters and drive them to act. Let’s jump into the best practices you can adopt to drive more website traffic from your email newsletters.

Link to Your Website

This may seem like a bit of a no-brainer. To drive more traffic to your website, you need to include avenues for that traffic to follow within your email newsletter. All of your calls to action, buttons and images within your newsletter should link to a real page on your website. Whether it’s teasing a blog post and linking to the full post or asking supporters to donate to a new fundraising effort and taking them to your donate page, you should be pushing people to your website to convert. You’ll want to make it easy for supporters to find more information and actually taking those actions that you’re asking of them.

As you’re double-checking your email before you send it out, be sure to check all of these links and ensure they’re working properly and directing people to the pages you intended. There’s nothing worse than losing a potential donation or volunteer because of a broken link!

Make the Content on Your Website Useful

Following the previous best practice of linking, the content that you’re linking to should be high quality and add real value. Otherwise, why promote it to your supporters at all? When a subscriber clicks on a link and is taken to a page that’s bare, poorly written or in any way off-putting, that subscriber is not only unlikely to convert, but also unlikely to click on your email calls to action in the future. As you can imagine, content is incredibly important in the conversion process.

Share your most recent blog posts or even older posts that are timely again. The content you’re sharing doesn’t necessarily need to be new, you’ll just need to find a way to make it topical if it’s not.

Welcome New Subscribers

There’s an excellent opportunity to educate new supporters about your cause as soon as they subscribe your email newsletter. When a new subscriber joins your mailing list, you want to ease them into your newsletter and give them a good amount of background information to bring them up to speed and make them feel like an important part of the community.

Of course, we realize that there just isn’t enough time in the day to personally welcome all of your new subscribers and fill them in on everything that’s going on. That’s the beauty of marketing automation. Create a welcome series of between two and four emails that automatically sends to every new subscriber. Share your mission and information on what your organization is all about to start the series. You could also introduce your programs and link to important pages on your website.

Encourage Sharing

You’re putting in a lot of effort to create great content to link to in your newsletter. But are you missing opportunities to share it in other places? Don’t be afraid to include social media buttons within your newsletters or to encourage supporters to visit your social media pages, even specific posts, and join the conversation. Social media can be a great way to foster the community building you incite with your welcome email series.

In your next newsletter, encourage your subscribers to share a recent blog post on Facebook, follow your organization on Twitter or comment on your blog. Engagement across multiple channels will help to grow your audience (with the added bonus of more traffic) as more people see, share and subscribe to your content. And you can kickstart all of this engagement with your newsletter!

Email is still one of the best ways to get your message out. You have a list of folks who’ve told you they want to hear about what’s going on at your nonprofit on a regular basis. Use it to drive traffic and conversions on your website.

Are there any other ways that your nonprofit drives traffic from email? What nonprofit newsletter best practices do you follow? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Beyond the technical parts of creating a new site for your organisation, developing a communications plan is an important part of getting ready for launch. Make sure that your key audiences are informed and enthusiastic using our new website checklist for nonprofit marketers.

Prepare Helpful Resources

While you’ve been living and breathing the new site, others in your organisation may not have been following along quite as closely. Be prepared to answer a wide range of questions about the new site, from design choices to functionality, as you get closer to launch. Even if you feel like you’ve been over-communicating the process over the past few weeks and months, the busy nature of nonprofit work means that not everyone has been absorbing the details.

When your launch date is about two weeks out, start preparing talking points about your goals for the new site, design changes (if you’ve updated your style or colour palette), new features, the project budget and the web design firm/contractor (if you’re using one). It may also be helpful to gather screenshots of the old and new sites so that you can offer some visual examples.

To get ahead of the inevitable pre-launch panic, we’ve found it helpful to proactively prepare notes on the following topics so that you’re ready to quickly address concerns:

  • What happens to everything on the old site? Can I still get there?
  • Do we need to update all of the links? Will old links still work?
  • How can I learn to use the new site? What resources are available?
  • Are we sure that the donation and sign up forms will work?
  • Why did we need to spend $______ on a new website? Does it help us reach our goals?
  • How did you decide on this style (font, colours, layout)?
  • What’s the plan for fixing things that are broken at launch?
  • How does the new website make a difference for users, like service recipients and donors?

Even if you don’t use them all now, these notes offer a useful record of the project that you can refer to in the future.

New Website Checklist: Before Launch

The weeks leading up to launch are a crucial time to communicate internally and with those, you’d consider being “insiders” at your organisation. All of these audiences should be informed of the launch date and major changes in functionality, style and navigation.


  • Provide your staff with basic training materials about the site so that they can find important content and are comfortable getting around. One way to do this is by recording a simple screencast in Keynote or Powerpoint using screenshots of the new site.
  • You can also arm employees with talking points about the new site so they can answer questions from donors and the public in-person, on the phone or over email.

Board of Directors

  • For many boards, you’ll only need to offer a scaled-down version of the information you send to staff. Using a fact sheet approach, outline your goals, key changes, showcase pages you’re most proud of and include some FAQs.
  • If your new site offers special features like a board-only area, give a quick overview and let them know when to expect some training.


  • Do you have volunteers, partners, funders or other insiders that you want to feel “in the know” about the upcoming website from a relationship-building perspective?
  • A brief message about the launch date, what the organisation is most excited about and how it relates to them will do the trick.

New Website Checklist: After Launch

Sorry, your new website isn’t particularly newsworthy. Instead of focusing on a press release to spread the word, you can effectively announce the site to your core audiences in the two weeks following launch.


  • First, celebrate! You’ve entered a new chapter of your organisation’s identity.
  • Second, resend the talking points you prepared and designate someone (maybe you?) as the point person for questions and troubleshooting.

Board of Directors

  • Again, celebrate! Your amazing new site is a reflection of their leadership.
  • Remind them of key details, including who the point person is for questions (and kudos).
  • Mention that you look forward to sharing the site’s performance in upcoming board reports.


  • Ask the primary relationship managers to email key partners and announce the new site with a brief explanation of how it will advance your mission.
  • Be sure to point out places where the partner is mentioned, like a Partners page.
  • If appropriate, encourage them to share the new site with their audiences, too.

Service Recipients and Volunteers

  • Does your new website change the way (hopefully for the better!) that program participants and volunteers communicate with you, sign up or take action?
  • Get in touch with them as soon as possible through your typical means of communication (like personal phone calls or by email) and walk them through the new process.
  • It’s also a great opportunity to say hello and thanks!


  • Don’t forget that they love you for your mission, not your marketing. Balance the announcement of your new website by framing it as a tool that helps you do even more good work.
  • If you send a regular email newsletter, consider including the announcement there so that it’s not the only story of how you’ve been spending your time and resources.
  • You could also announce the new site on your blog, like this example from the National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias.

General Public

  • This is the really fun part! Use a combination of your blog and social media channels to share the news.
  • Outline what’s new and how it makes a difference for the user and your cause – and don’t forget to include a visual in your social media content.
  • Depending on your goals, consider adding or promoting an incentive to visit the new site, like checking out a new downloadable resource or using a discount code in your store. Check out this awesome example from the Core Knowledge Foundation.

Crafting a communications plan for your website launch helps make sure that no one is left out in the cold during this busy time. Identifying key audiences, proactively providing them with information and then celebrating a new tool that advances your cause should be at the heart of your marketing team’s new website checklist.

Have you seen a nonprofit do a good job announcing a new site? What other communications tasks would you add to a new website checklist? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017 12:35

Making the Most of Your Nonprofit Newsletter

If you’re in charge of your nonprofit newsletter, there’s a good chance that content creation and writing articles are continually on your “To Do” list. About two-thirds of nonprofits send out print newsletters, typically each quarter. On top of that, more than 40% of organisations are sending monthly email updates. Are you approaching content burnout?

Here are a few nonprofit newsletter tips that can help you consistently leverage your content across more channels, saving you time and energy by making your good work last longer.

Don’t Lock Up Your Best Content for Print

Because of the costs associated with sending a print newsletter, it makes sense that you’d want to hold your best stories until the next issue. But why wait? Most people aren’t digesting each piece of communication that you send or post, so there’s no danger in publishing a story on your website’s blog and then talking about it from a different perspective in your next issue. Also, remember that writing for the web and for print are very different tasks, so ignore that urge to copy and paste!

When you wait, you put the relevance of your news at risk. Take the breadcrumb approach and allow people to follow along by sharing pieces of stories over time in print and digital. When done well, you’ll look coordinated, not repetitive.

Use Your Blog as a Publishing Platform

Continually updating your website is a tough task when you have more pressing marketing projects. So why not let your nonprofit newsletter do the work? Use your blog as a publishing platform by posting each of your print and email newsletter articles separately – and not held hostage in a PDF! Search engines will reward the freshness of your site, and people can easily zero in on the latest news and updates.

Another benefit of this approach is that each story will have a digital anchor that you can link to on social media. Pick a relevant photo and put together some teaser text to accompany the link back to your blog.

Get Creative with Nonprofit Newsletter Content

Do you find yourself using the same format for each article in your newsletter? If you’re bored by the repetition, it’s a safe assumption that your readers are, too. Luckily, variety works for print and digital. Try out some types of newsletter content that show your audience that you care about the same things:

  • Lists of interesting facts or quotes about your issue
  • Book review that relates to the story or approach of your work
  • Announcement about an upcoming awareness day and how to get involved
  • How-to tutorial or DIY project that helps the community you serve

Moving beyond the traditional “article” frees you up to share your content in new ways, especially when it comes to re-purposing on social media and email. You’re also more likely to engage people when you offer them some kind of extra value or resource like in the examples above.

Ditch the President’s Message

Building on the previous tip, it’s time to rethink the ever-present message from your nonprofit’s Executive Director. If it’s not something that’s useful outside of your newsletter, is it really carrying its weight? A good “message from the president” helps your organisation seem more relevant, inspiring and real. But more often than not, it’s like a table of contents in paragraph form.

Here’s another test: is it something that your Board president would want to share on their personal LinkedIn account? Unless it has some strong thought leadership that you (and others) can leverage, start thinking about a new direction or filling that space with newsletter content that matters to more people.

Follow Up on Your Best Stories

Now that you’re making your newsletter content available online, you also have the bonus ability to measure how it’s doing! Not only that, you can specifically track which stories lead to donations. Make a note in your editorial calendar to follow-up on the top performing content in a few weeks or months as a way to republish it and provide new details. You can also use this data to do an “in case you missed this” round-up blog post or email that shares the most popular recent stories.

Creating content for your nonprofit newsletter shouldn’t be a dead-end task. Make it work for you by planning in advance to share it on your blog, social media and by email. When you think beyond print and a last minute email update, you’ll start to see that your newsletter better serves your marketing goals and your readers.

What are some other ways that nonprofits can re-purpose their newsletters? Do you have any tricks to creating newsletter content that goes the extra mile? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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