As a voluntary-led group, it’s easy to find yourself with a patchy database of email contacts. And if you don’t already use an online marketing platform, sending out your email newsletter can be quite limiting and tricky to format.

There are lots of online email marketing programmes out there but Mailchimp is by far the most popular and well known - it is also free to use if you have 2,000 or less people on your email list. There is the option to pay a monthly subscription if you exceed this, which comes with a discount for registered nonprofits.

In simple terms, Mailchimp is an online programme that offers a way for you to organise your email lists and send out eye-catching newsletters to your contacts. 

There are lots of free templates available within Mailchimp that allow you to bring your news to life with images, text and links, plus you have the option to segment your email list, making it easier to send specific messages to specific contacts.

Example: you could use a programme such as Mailchimp to split your email list into volunteers, committee members and participants, this allows you to select all if sending out a general newsletter but if sending out actions from the board meeting you can easily send this just to committee members. And if sending out information on volunteer training, you can just send it to just your volunteers at the click of a button, without having to wade through old email lists.

Mailchimp allows you to share your log in with other (trusted) members of your group, which means that one person isn’t responsible for all the organisation’s contact details. Plus there are special features that make it possible to see who is interacting with your newsletter and what content they are engaging with, which can be a useful way to determine the effectiveness of your newsletter and work out where to put your energies when it comes to your next email communication. 

In this video Fin explains why she recommends Mailchimp for voluntary groups and shares some tips on how you can make the most of this free tool . . .

REMEMBER: when collecting and storing contact details such as people's email addresses, it is important that you understand your responsibilities and the data protection laws that apply to your organisation. 

Data protection laws ensure that personal information is handled appropriately and securely by organisations including businesses, government agencies and charities. Any arts organisation, charity, community group or membership organisation has a legal duty to follow these laws when gathering, storing, sharing or processing this data. The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force on 25 May 2018 across all EU member states - read the Voluntary Arts Briefing 'GDPR: data protection' for more information and guidance on how to comply with these new regulations. 

Further reading:

- This article and video tutorial from Mailchimp shows you how to get started and create an account.

- Visit the Mailchimp YouTube channel for step-by-step video tutorials on all aspects of using Mailchimp.

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