Newsletters are an excellent tool to engage donors. However, many of our clients seem to lose sight of the value that a well executed newsletter can provide OR they have never harnessed this value for their organization.
A newsletter can serve many purposes, but if used correctly, it should exist to communicate IMPACT to DONORS. It should consist of small, digestible stories that engage and deepen the connection between your organization and its supporters.
Unfortunately, one trend that I’ve noticed with clients is that they either don’t have an organizational newsletter or they tried it and it was left in the dust.
Why is this?
Small non-profits are usually understaffed and are so busy with immediate needs that they don’t see enough value in a newsletter to prioritize it or to delegate the necessary time and resources.
And if they have (or had) a newsletter, they’re using it wrong. Often times the content found in these emails are too long, chalked with facts, poor images, and inconsistent messaging. Maybe it’s something that has been left to a student intern who doesn’t understand fundraising communications. Whatever the reason, this lack of trust in the importance of a newsletter needs to change.
Newsletters are an inexpensive way to engage and steward donors. And donors want them! Every time we survey donors with our clients - the results are the same. Donors want to hear from your organization more than just asking and they want newsletters every month (or more).
Reporting to your donors on a regular basis should be a requirement as your donors deserve to be kept in the loop. This inexpensive way to communicate with your supporters not only deepens your connection, it will also improve donor retention.
Are you ready to unleash the power of the newsletter?!
If you’re considering creating a newsletter for the first time or maybe you want to bring it back, here are a few things to AVOID (don't worry if you're guilty of one or all of these - most organizations are):
Photos of more than 3 people (try having your subjects, making eye contact with the lens and eliminate other distractions in the photo)
Articles that are purely focused on how great your organization is (this includes: awards, statistical comparisons, partnerships etc.)
Font that is too small (consider your audience)
Type that is distracting or hard to read
Stories that highlight program related info and staff rather than your beneficiaries.
Stories that focus on more than one person.
Anything above a grade 10 reading level (should be between 6-8 according to the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level Test)
Any article or story that doesn’t mention the donor
The word “we” and; “us” and; “our.” (you can use these sparingly but make your your writing is “donor-centric”, meaning a lot of “you” and “your.”)
Convoluted or distracting headlines
The main takeaway from this list is to focus on the donor.
If you need to communicate with other non-donor audiences (ex. Volunteers, clients, partners, etc.) consider a different publication or method of contact. Donor focused communications really makes a difference in retention and money raised. Telling your donor how his/her gift made a difference is far more effective than telling him/her how effective your organization is.
I was inspired to write this post after reading an article on The Better Fundraising Co.’s website, by Steven Screen.
My biggest takeaway was when Steven wrote, “Your newsletter should be an exercise in giving credit away...It works in friendship, and it works in fundraising!”, and with that being said, go create some lasting friendships!
If you’re interested in creating a donor newsletter and aren’t quite sure how to get started, download our Newsletter Planning Template.
This simple tool is the perfect way to organize your newsletter and build a system that will deepen donor love, loyalty, and engagement.
Go ahead - download it here.