Online Newsletters – Another Fundraising Tool
Kirsten, a reader of Karen’s Fundraising Tips, sent in a question.
She’s brand new to a nonprofit – I don’t know which one – and one of her main tasks is to write an online quarterly newsletter. They used to mail out a hardcopy but are changing for budget reasons.
Her organization “provides a wide range of services to the homeless and those living in poverty in the area.” She went on to say “… with no experience in writing newsletters I’m looking for any helpful tips to get me started and assist me in filling the pages with worthwhile information and news.”
Two significant questions must be answered immediately before Kirsten can write a single word:
- What’s the purpose of the newsletter?
A general appeal? Update on a project? Is it to encourage advocacy? Whatever it is, you must know the purpose so your copy is focused. And include “asks” throughout.
- Who will it be sent to?
To donors who give money? Or to people who provide “gifts in kind?” These different populations would lead to very different newsletters, for example.
And all these questions impact the copy.
Speaking of copy . . . it must be donor centered.
- What do donors want you to be doing?
- Where’s their general perception? You must address it even if you don’t adjust your mission. Even if your veteran staff “knows best,” if the donor perception of what you’re doing or should be doing is different, you need to address it.
In the nonprofit world the donor is the center of the universe. There’s a lot of competition for those donor dollars and that’s why the nonprofit industry really is competitive. And that’s partly why it’s all about the “donor.” Keep the donor at the center of all your communications, including your newsletter.
Few more quick tips . . .
Kirsten, look at the archive of print newsletters from your organization. Start there. If it was a 4-page newsletter with 6 stories, get all 6 in two online email screens. Only have a little bit of scroll.
Open with a HOT LEAD paragraph with a link to "read more."
Each story is a short enticing opening paragraph with a link to read the rest of it. Remember; keep the email to two short screens.
Have “asks” peppered throughout your newsletter. And ask for donations in different ways: Click here to help us provide more warm beds in our shelter. Click here help ensure job training is available …. etc.
My final suggestion is for you to subscribe to as many other nonprofit newsletters as you can. Minimize your learning curve by modeling yours after theirs.
Good luck, Kirsten. These basics should get you started. And please drop me a line to let me know how you’re doing!
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Just for fun - a quote for you
"“No person was ever honored for what they received. Honor has been the reward for what they gave.”" (Calvin Coolidge, Former President of the United States)
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