The GuideStar Blog retired September 9, 2019. We invite you to visit its replacement, the Candid Blog. You’re also welcome to browse or search the GuideStar Blog archives. Onward!

GuideStar Blog

How Often Should Your Nonprofit Send Email to Your List?

Kivi Leroux Miller Kivi Leroux Miller

During our webinar on “Taming Your Communications Calendar Six Months at a Time,” we received several questions we weren’t able to answer live.

One person asked, “How often should we send email publicity to our audience?”

Email is an essential communications tool for nonprofits because it’s fast and affordable. Best of all, emails can include links that take your readers directly to pages on your website, where they can take actions, like donating, registering for events, following through on an advocacy action, and more.

I get this question a lot: How often should we email? What’s too much, what’s not enough?

It’s a complicated question with lots of variables. For example, the more relevant and valuable your content is to those on the receiving end, the more you can email them. You can make your content more valuable and relevant in a few different ways, one of which is by sending the articles on the right topics to the right people. That requires you to track information about people so that you can segment your mailing list.

To give this question a little context, let’s look at what we found in the 2013 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report.

Monthly emailing to a typical person on an email list is the most popular frequency expected by nonprofits in 2013 at 42%, followed by every other week at 17%, quarterly at 15%, and weekly at 14%. This changed only slightly from 2011 and 2012. More than three-quarters of nonprofits (76%) plan to email their typical supporters at least monthly, which is down slightly from 78% in 2012 and up from 75% in 2011.

Not surprisingly, the more important a nonprofit believes email to be as a communications tool, the more frequently they will email. The more likely they are to say they will spend most of their time on email fundraising or advocacy appeals or email newsletters, the more frequently they expect to email supporters.

Of the nonprofits that ranked email as a “very important” tool for 2013, 84% will email at least monthly, with 39% emailing every other week or more. On the other hand, of those ranking email as only “somewhat important,” 70% will email at least monthly (up from 66% in 2012) and 29% will email every other week or more (up from 22% in 2012).

Of the nonprofits that said they would spend most of their time on email newsletters, 83% said they would email at least monthly. Of the nonprofits that said they would spend most of their time on email fundraising or advocacy appeals, 77% will email at least monthly.

You need to customize your email schedule for your organization, and more importantly, to the people on your mailing list. But if you email at least monthly, you’ll be doing what most other nonprofits do.

Above is a follow-up by Kivi Leroux Miller, president of, to a question submitted by a participant during the April 3, 2013, webinar about communications planning. To view the presentation, please click here. You can read Kivi's answer to another question from a webinar participant in last week's blog post, Seven Easy Ways to Repurpose Your Content. Learn more about content marketing and nonprofit communications strategies in Kivi’s new book, “Content Marketing for Nonprofits: A Communications Map for Engaging Your Community, Becoming a Favorite Cause, and Raising More Money” available in August 2013 and available for pre-order on Amazon here.

Topics: Communications