5 Steps to Profitable Donor Newsletters

in Newsletter

Print & E-Newsletters for NonprofitsNewsletters that help nonprofits – charities and associations – raise more money aren’t complicated. It’s not rocket science.

In fact, publishing newsletters (print or e-newsletters) could be summarized in five simple steps:


1 – Center it on the donor and use emotion

Write donor-centric or member-centric copy. Replace “we” with “you” if your nonprofit wants newsletters that build loyalty, retention, and also raise more funds.

And emotion is what inspires people to respond – whether you’re writing for a charity or a business association. So learn how to infuse your copy with the right dose of emotion.

2 – Write enticing, engaging, captivating, interesting, etc. HEADLINES

This includes subject lines for e-newsletters.

Your donors, members, advocates and volunteers skim first. And IF something catches their eye then they’ll start reading the article.

However, writing great headlines is anything but easy.

I suggest you study newspapers (print and online) to help you recognize headlines that tend to draw you in … that pique your interest. An upcoming blog post will have tips on writing stronger headlines.

3 – Share results, successes, examples of how donors are making a difference

This is where you put your storytelling skills to work.

Also remember that donors need to have proof that they’re helping your charity move forward; they’re helping others and making a difference.

In a similar way, members of your association like to see that their donations are making progress toward what is important to them (changes in legislation in their industry; safety improvements; etc.). Or perhaps show how your association is helping members advance their career.

4 – Include plenty of schmoozing

Within the articles say thanks for all the donor has helped make possible. Praise their accomplishments. And say it multiple times. This is in addition to any lists of donors you might publish in your newsletter.

5 – Be consistent

Publish on a regular schedule. I recognize that medium and smaller nonprofits may have resource issues that make this challenging. So give yourself some flexibility. For example: If you advertise a quarterly newsletter, always get it published within the same 2-week period of the quarter (some time within the first two weeks of October, January, April and July).

Create a design and stick with it. I’ve seen organizations that change the design and layout almost every other issue. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t ever change it!

Have certain feature articles in each issue. Perhaps page one is always a success story from the field (please do NOT put a letter from the Executive Director or other leader on page one). Or include a relevant article from the news in each issue; or a column on upcoming events. And so on.

The catch is that simple doesn’t necessarily equate to easy. Writing nonprofit newsletters that help you raise more money takes genuine effort. But it’s worth the effort.

What’s YOUR biggest challenge with newsletters?

Related posts:

Donor-Centric Newsletters … do you have one?

Write a newsletter donors and members WANT to read

Get more newsletter subscribers

Photo credit: AMA – ModelAircraft.org

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrew Beeston November 8, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Karen, one thing we have found is that including some personal information about a donor can be of benefit too. Personalising emails (harder with print) with details such as, ‘thanks to your $X gift recently…’ if you have that data can be a wonderful connection!

Karen Zapp, copywriter November 9, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for weighing in.

Yes, I agree … anytime you can tailor the message to the reader the stronger it will be. And the more likely they’ll respond. This can be challenging in a newsletter, although certainly if it’s electronic it can be addressed to the person/donor. Print – for many nonprofits – is limited to the name on the outer envelope.

Still, if there’s good data and a few versions of the same newsletter can be prepared so the content that more closely aligns with the file segment is featured, that’s another way to “personalize.”

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