Are Newsletters a Waste of Time? Obama campaign says “Yes”
According to Thomas Gensemer, one of President Obama’s key online strategists, it’s time for NGO’s to stop sending out email newsletters. He believes that short, personalized emails to supporters giving clear instructions for participation work much better.
“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.”
For the Obama campaign, 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. These emails gave supporters a “steady narrative of actions, feedback and milestones”, Gensemer said.
But Vinay Bhagat, founder of Convio, believes that online newsletters still play an important function for NGO’s. In a blog response to Gensemer, he wrote: “Political campaigns are short lived and maximizing participation during the campaign cycle is critical. In contrast, nonprofits rely on building long-term donor relationships. As such, they should adopt a much more stewardship centered email strategy, regularly sharing stories about the impact of their work, interspersed with calls to action/ fundraising asks at the appropriate frequency.”