Consistent and strategic email communication is critical to a robust, successful digital program. 

But it takes more than just sending any generic email—personalization, engaging elements, and segmentation are just a few ways to ensure you’re effectively communicating with your target audiences and seeing the results you desire. 

Keep reading for some of our email best practices. They can be a game changer for your organization.

Keep it Concise

Ideally, an email should consist of 3-4 medium-length paragraphs. You can also consider bullet points or stand-alone sentences for visual impact. Increasingly, audiences are skimming emails on a mobile device (while multitasking) and spending less than 8 seconds to read an email. 

Consider the power of visual storytelling. Our brains process images in just 13 milliseconds – 60,000 times faster than we process texts.

Landing Pages

Email communications should be used as a first step towards a deeper relationship with the organization. Include “teasers” in your email and link to longer text hosted as “Insights from Leadership” on your website or, ideally, in a VIP membership section of your site. 

Insights can then be repurposed as evergreen content based on analytics of time/volume of audience engagement with content.

Segmentation & Interests

Update your existing comprehensive email to provide updates on all aspects of your organization with a templated email that includes a standard intro/outro with specific information on 1-2 initiatives based on audience interests. This avoids the trap of sending audiences longer “generalized” emails that are not targeted to their interests. 

Additionally, you can establish audience interests and encourage engagement with periodic “survey” emails.

Authenticity & Relevance

Samples consistently demonstrate that nonprofit staff tend to message higher-value audiences with more “formal” language, which in turn can be a detriment to the recipient experience. 

Authentic communications help audiences emotionally connect to your mission and brand. Relevant points keep the focus on a path to engagement. 

Every day, an average of 150K emails are sent each minute—cut through the clutter with a focused, warm, and engaging tone.


Utilizing personalization (First Name) in the body of an email helps reorient focus towards a specific call-to-action. Studies show that psychologically (1) our eyes are drawn to our own name, and, (2) with this placement, the donor already envisions themselves in the act of giving or responding. 

Also, consider personalization in the Subject Line, and ensure that the Sender is a recognized brand, program, or individual 

Serial Communications

Average email open rates hover at around 20%. While this number is higher for mid-level, major, and monthly donors, odds are your recipients are not engaging with a majority of your email. 

Consider “splitting” a message into several shorter communications to increase frequency. 

This strategy can be tested with “lift-notes” that utilize a “resend” of the original email with additional comments from leadership

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