What’s In My Inbox | How One Nonprofit’s Newsletter Gets a 51% Open Rate

October 10, 2022


This isn’t the first time that I’ve featured the weekly newsletter from the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection in What’s In My Inbox — and it probably won’t be the last.

Take a look at the Coalition’s homespun weekly email and see exactly how it quite perfectly embraces best practices in nonprofit email marketing and goes a step beyond.

  1. This headline, A Dose of Desert Joy: fall colors + a tarantula on the move leads with the name of the newsletter, along with an intriguing byline. Definitely engaging.
  2. The email always comes directly from Kathleen Kennedy, Associate Director of the Coalition. You’ll want your emails to come from a recognizable sender, rather than info@ABCnonprofit.org.
  3. When it comes to frequency, CauseVox says “Sending four emails in a month (as opposed to one), increases the number of people opening those emails.” Every Friday late afternoon/early evening, A Dose of Desert Joy lands in my inbox. It couldn’t come at a more perfect time. We’re all wiped out from the week and looking for the rest and relaxation the weekend brings. A Dose delivers. Find the best timing for your mission and your donors. But do be consistent (monthly at the bare minimum and weekly is preferable).
  4. Another aspect of the Coalition’s Dose of Desert Joy that works so well is user-generated content in the form of stunning photography shared by supporters. The photos are complemented by Kathleen’s warm personality and thoughtfully selected quotes and poems.

The email open rate for nonprofits is roughly 25% in 2022, according to many companies that track these metrics. Kathleen reports:

“This year, we have sent 31 A Dose of Desert Joy emails. The average open rate is 51.4%.“

I asked Kathleen if they’ve seen more engagement by way of their emails versus Instagram.

“We get way more engagement through the emails. I have people send me photos or simple “Thanks for your email! I love them!” type messages every week. People also forward them to friends and family and then those folks will sign up to get them directly. And they definitely generate some passive donations. I don’t keep track of engagement on Instagram that closely beyond responding to comments (which are pretty light, many posts don’t have any comments, occasionally we’ll have one or two). I post the photos from the email on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. It’s a very low time investment – I use the same caption from the emails and try to share them a week or two after the email they were in.”

What lessons can you take away from A Dose of Desert Joy? Download this example and subscribe to receive your own Dose of Desert Joy. 

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