Last week, the Chronicle of Philanthropy pointed out a story from ThirdSector. In it, President Obama’s digital strategist, Thomas Gensemer, called email newsletters “a waste of time.”

In the article he’s quoted as saying:

“Email newsletters don’t get read, yet they take more effort to prepare than a 250-word email,” he said. “Email is still a killer application, but only when used properly.”

250 words.

I’ve been told that a 30-second radio commercial is 75 words. So, that means 250 words is less than 2 minutes of dictation.

If you already do an email newsletter, think about how hard you work on them. Creating articles, pulling together facts. It is time consuming.

Gensemer’s comments remind me of my blog post on Katya Andreson’s Robin Hood Marketing reminding people that for nonprofit marketing it’s vital to ask people to do something specific.

So if you want to use email to raise money, Gensemer’s says:

Fundraising and participation tactics included sending regular, short emails to supporters asking recipients to do one thing that day. Each email also told the supporter what their action would accomplish and what would happen next.

Great advice. And it’s hard to argue with success like his. Raising more than $500 million from over three million people is a huge accomplishment!

So if you’re expecting your email newsletter to raise money, you should reconsider your strategy. Remember, if you’re trying to use email to raise money, keep it short and specific.

But, I wouldn’t just trash your email newsletter right away. Those regular articles and news stories could be repurposed for your organization’s blog and website. You still want to keep your donors RSS feeds fed with regular information.

You do have an RSS feed for your website, right?

My “$100,000 Guide to Email Solicitation” shows how to use email for fundraising. You can buy it at FundraisingCoach Store.

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