Inbox Insider: Nonprofit e-mails stand out among holiday deals

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The holiday shopping period is truly the season for retailers to take over the inbox. On a daily basis, I've received e-mails from Amazon, Gap, Bloomingdales, Target, Design Within Reach and J. Crew. But yesterday I got an e-mail that stood out to me in a sea of offers for free shipping and 20% off sweaters.

The message was from Doctors Without Borders, promoting a film screening for a documentary called Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders. The e-mail also included a link to the charity's site, and its Twitter and Facebook pages - a good idea to get people engaged, considering that many give to charities at this time of year.

I was pleased to see this e-mail for two reasons. First, it stood out among the crowd. Rather than trying to sell products or even soliciting for donations, the message provided information about global health issues, thus hitting a passion point.

Second, I was happy to get an e-mail, instead of just direct mail, from a charity that I give money to every year. I've noticed that giving money to a charity really increases the number of direct mail pieces that I receive, which I don't like because I don't want to think that all of that money is going back into mailing to me. I like to know that the donation is going to a good cause. I do like to hear from the organization about what it is up to, and e-mail and social media are the ways to do that.

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