Sometimes things happen. It’s no one’s fault.

I open with that to say this: I am NOT blaming anyone in what I share below. It happened and there was nothing that could be done about it.

But I’m using it to teach an important practice when it comes to sending emails and publishing social media posts.

Don’t Schedule If You Don’t Have To

When I work with organizations on their social media content, one of the things we discuss is scheduling posts in advance.

I’m against it. Especially in small nonprofits where one person manages both the fundraising and the marketing.

Maybe on Monday you schedule a week’s worth of posts for a couple of social media platforms. You clap your hands and go: All done! Posts are scheduled and they’ll go out throughout the week.

But here’s where the problems begin:

  • Posting is just one part of it! You also need to be checking in to see if people have replied/commented on your post. If yes, you want to answer them as quickly as possible, not a week later.
  • A natural disaster, crisis or horrific event takes place and begins to dominate everyone’s feed. Your scheduled post shows up and it can seem really insensitive! For example, a school shooting is in progress, people are watching their feeds and praying for everyone to be safe when suddenly your post- with a large group of people smiling- shows up celebrating your gala event from last week. It’s a bad look!

If you’re going to schedule, then someone has to be responsible to keep an eye on what’s trending, what’s going on and if necessary stop some of your scheduled posts because of current events.

Don't schedule posts if you don't have to

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Email Is Different

Hurricane? Tornado? Wildfires? Mass shooting? Whatever it is, it’s best to pause your social posts and send at a different time. There’s major breaking news that has captured everyone’s attention.

The last thing you want is to seem insensitive.

This is part of the reason why I’m so against scheduling social media posts.

Email, however, is trickier.

Sending them? You’ll queue them up. It’s not something you write and then just click “send.” It’s something that gets crafted, edited, redone, approved etc.

No matter the topic, you work hard on your emails. Which is why when they’re ready, odds are you schedule them for a specific day and time. You won’t let it sit around until you’re ready to send it out.

Makes sense.

But what I said above about social media also applies to email: If a tragedy happens, go look at the content of your email and see if sending it will seem insensitive to your subscribers.

Timing Is Everything

A lot of organizations, businesses and people have their emails scheduled to go out at 6am EST. That’s way before publishers have a chance to wake up and check what’s trending on Twitter and then make changes on their email if necessary.

I bring this up because of what happened yesterday:

In the middle of the night EST (Tuesday the 26th), a ship hit the Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore causing it to collapse. People in cars crossing the bridge and construction crews working on the bridge were plummeted into the waters below the bridge.

As of this writing, I’m not sure if emergency services were able to rescue anyone.

It’s horrible, a terrible tragedy. Because it was middle of the night, it didn’t dominate the news cycle on social media right away. As people in the U.S. wake up they’ll be posting about it and searching for the latest news.

A couple of hours later, little before 6am EST, I received one of the daily enewsletters I’m subscribed to from a very well-known company. Today’s enews included a section about… searching for shipwrecks on the ocean floor.


I’m sure the email was approved and queued up sometime on Monday- the day before the Baltimore story. The publishers were fast asleep when the ship hit the bridge. They were probably still in dreamland when the email went out at 5:35am EST. No way for them to have removed and/or replaced that section with something else.

It’s not their fault. No blame to anyone.

But if the ship crash had happened during the daytime, I would have fully expected them to switch out the shipwreck section. Because if they didn’t, that could be a bad look to some (many? All?) of their subscribers.

And that’s what I wanna drive home: You always have to consider how your readers, subscribers, online followers will read and react to what you’ve sent. If they think what you’ve published is insensitive, you’re gonna hear about it.

And crisis comms isn’t fun! (Take it from someone who’s had to do it a couple of times.)

It’s why having outside eyes review what you’re sending can be a big help.

Through The Reader’s Eyes

Fundraising and marketing campaigns. Social media posts and emails. Direct mail and annual reports.

Everything has to be evaluated through the prism of “is this what my readers want and how will they react.” It’s not about what you and your organization want. It’s about connecting with people and mobilizing them to take action.

You won’t connect with them if your content is deemed unfit, crass or “not the right time.” So even if what you’re publishing will absolutely engage the audience, timing is still everything.

Avoid posting something that people will negatively react to. Because the Internet gonna Internet. Your post will suddenly appear all over the place for all the wrong reasons and that’s exactly what you’re trying to avoid.

Know when your social media posts and emails are going out. And then if possible, check to make sure it’s a good time to send.

Wanna learn how to send emails that connect, engage and mobilize readers to take action? Let’s work together so your emails boost your fundraising and marketing efforts. Use email to build more relationships and raise more money!