How To Guide: Email Editor
It’s so important that your volunteers hear from you—the team leaders—with regularity via an email newsletter and sporadically via single-focus emails for specific opportunities and invitations. We suggest seeing emails as important for team-building and a must-have foundation upon which you can layer high-value personal recruitment and retention tactics—aka phone calls and text reminders—to increase attendance and participation. The team’s Email Editor plays a key role as an organizer of a Sister District team.
The Email Editor helps broadcast news, shares updates from HQ, provides RSVP forms and info on upcoming events, recaps events, shares fundraising and other candidate support progress, and gives shout-outs to volunteers to recognize their time and energy in a way that they know they’re seen and appreciated by the whole group.
While every team and leader will have different approaches, as you hone your email game we think the following suggestions may be useful for any Email Editor.
1. Get looped in for HQ updates and content
Make sure you’re signed up to receive the twice-monthly HQL Update email. Also great to participate in the Sister District Volunteer Leaders Slack channel and private Volunteer Leader Facebook page. Following HQ social media accounts may be useful as well. To get added, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Try a recurring newsletter
A routinized newsletter process is a winner. Establishing a cadence will help with catching and keeping volunteers’ attention. You might consider calibrating your newsletters to the HQL Update email, which comes out twice a month. This should provide a nice mechanism to trigger your process and enable you to share fresh information and content with your volunteers. Sometimes your recurring newsletter will have several items and sometimes you’ll want to focus it on one or maybe two priorities.
For inspiration, have a look through our Newsletter Library for examples!
Here’s how Al, Email Editor of Sister District Portland, described her 2020 process:
The HQL Update triggers the creation and sending of a newsletter, so there’s a regularity built-in. I monitor the Volunteer Leaders Slack channel and the Volunteer Leader Facebook page for news and links to blog posts so I’m in the loop regarding current goals, news topics, and strategies. When the HQL Update arrives in my inbox, I read through and pick out things to share with the team. I communicate with other team leaders to make sure I have RSVP links and details for upcoming events hosted by our volunteers (fundraisers and phonebank parties). Whenever possible, I’ll include a shoutout of our recent hosts/organizers along with event photos to thank them and celebrate them for their work—this encourages them to continue hosting and can be a good incentive for those new to SDP, too.
Our team has been good about emailing event “recaps” to one another, including $ raised, photos, lessons learned, etc.—this is another way to build content that I’ve found super helpful. If folks don’t email a recap, I reach out to them directly to get photos and highlights. Newsletters always include information about our candidates, why we’re focused on states (the SD mission), and then ways for folks to get involved. I recommend the “schedule send” feature in your email system – so helpful for me to draft when I had the time and then schedule the message to send at a predictable time for our team.
3. Send single-focus emails to complement your newsletter
People are busy, and they are scanning your email blasts quickly. While the recurring newsletter might have multiple ares of focus, you will likely find the highest levels of engagement for emails that have one call to action. In other words, if your goal is to raise money, provide only links to donate. If your goal is to get people to RSVP for a specific event, provide only links to RSVP.
Pro tip: consider how you can use single-focused emails to celebrate and recap events! Here‘s how Sister District East Bay announced their 2020 phonebank program, and here‘s how they used email to celebrate the success of their first phonebank and encourage more people to sign up for the program .
Recommendations for targeted email blasts include:
- Use pictures with faces (selfies are great!)
- Personalize the greeting (merge tags)
- Most important info in the first 3 lines
- Keep it SHORT – minimize text
- Make your action item the only style that stands out
- Make your ask specific
- Sign it from a real person
- Make sure to use buttons, which tend to outperform in-line hyperlinks
Check out this example from Sister District Wisconsin (then Madison):
4. Think of your email program as a glue that helps keep your team together
As an organizer, you want to help build community and channel that community’s creativity, time, and energy to achieving your shared goals. A good email game can significantly help with both pieces: community and channeling. Think about how you can build camaraderie among volunteers and help amplify and celebrate the unique characteristics of your team.
Pro tip: devote space to spotlighting or celebrating individual volunteers to help members of your community get to know each other better! Check out how Sister District South Bay featured a volunteer spotlight Q&A in one of their December 2020 newsletters. Adding this type of personal element to your emails will not only help your folks feel bonded to one another and more eager to be a part of the team, but people like this type of content, which means more readers!