How Long Should Our E-Newsletter Be?

Most nonprofit newsletters are way too long. Readers are expected to scroll, scroll and scroll some more. The reality? People don’t scroll that much. They’ll quickly skim what’s near the top and then delete it, missing entirely what’s at the bottom.

If you recently switched from a print newsletter to an e-newsletter, I am willing to bet the bank that your e-newsletter is too long. You simply can’t take everything that’s in a four-page print newsletter (let alone an 8- or 12-page newsletter) and cram it all into one email. It just doesn’t work. Instead, you should:

  1. Take the very best content
  2. Put that in your e-newsletter
  3. Link to everything else on your website

Your e-newsletters should be a fast read. I like the 500-word target. That’s not much space, but it makes perfect sense. People are craving empty inboxes, which means they are skimming their email even more than they used to. They simply aren’t going to scroll through a long email, reading it word for word. Don’t expect them to.

How should you use those 500 words? You might include one 500-word article. Or two 250-word articles. Or five 100-word teasers to full articles on your website. Or one 250-word article with a few teasers.

Experiment and find the format that works best for you and for your readers.

How Often Should We Send Our E-Newsletter?

How often can you write interesting, engaging content that your readers will enjoy receiving? That’s how often you should send your newsletter.

When in doubt or just starting out, try to send a newsletter every 4-6 weeks and adjust from there. You want people to remember you and look forward to receiving your newsletter, but you don’t want to drive them crazy with too much email.

Here’s a note about content:

  • If you are providing on-target, valuable information each and every time (or darn close), your readers won’t feel bugged by frequent mailings.
  • If you don’t have enough content for a newsletter every two months, you either don’t know your readers or aren’t thinking creatively about ways to talk about your work.

Here’s a sweeping generalization: Most nonprofits send e-newsletters too infrequently. If you aren’t sure whether to step up your publishing schedule or not, go for it. Remember, shorter is better with email. So instead of sending a newsletter with three articles every six weeks, try sending one article every two weeks. It’s the same amount of content, but you are giving your supports three opportunities to connect with you, instead of just one.

If you find you just can’t deliver the goods, slow down. If your unsubscribe rate goes up, ask why people are leaving your list and, if frequency is the problem, back off.


Whether you’re talking about how much content or how often to distribute it, it’s all about knowing what works best for your list!