Nonprofit organizations do an excellent job of communicating with supporters through multiple channels. Yet there are still some that onlydo a paper version of their newsletter. This is often because there are staff or board members who think their supporters aren’t using email.

Here are a few statistics and points to demonstrate why an email newsletter should be an important part of your nonprofit’s communication plan.

Many Supporters Prefer and Use Email

  • 91% of Internet users between 18 and 64 send or read email. (Source: Email Stat Center)
  • Email usage is up 22% among people 55-64 years old, and up 28% among those 65 and older. (Source: The 2010 U.S. Digital Year in Review, by comScore)
  • Communications technology preferences continue to shift among donors of all ages with 69% now saying they prefer electronic over print communication. There is more interest in receiving information electronically, particularly among donors 65 to 74. (Source: Cygnus Donor Survey 2011)

Email Is Cost-Effective

  • Direct mail costs 20 times as much as email. Email returns $43.62 for every dollar spent. (Source: Direct Marketing Association)

Email Is a Powerful Compliment to Direct Mail

  • Email allows for more regular communication that keeps supporters more informed.
  • Email allows for personalized, segmented messages that keeps supporters more engaged.
  • The ability to track the results of an email campaign provides new insights about which of your supporters are the most/least engaged, and what content your supporters are truly interested in.
  • Because email is so easy to share, it allows your organization to reach new people and raise awareness.

With these statistics in mind, it’s no surprise why an email newsletter is the most important communication tool for nonprofits in 2011, followed by a website, direct mail, in-person events, Facebook, and media relations/PR, according to the 2011 Nonprofit Marketing Guide.

But should you only have an email version of your newsletter? It depends what are your supporters’ want. If you aren’t sure, just ask them what their preferences are. (You can find many other great tips for creating and designing your nonprofit’s email newsletter in this free webinar: Nonprofit Newsletters That Engage.)

What works best for your nonprofit organization? Leave your questions or thoughts in the comments below.