Make Your Newsletter Shine

In our social media world, is a newsletter still a relevant form of communication?  It can be, if it’s done well, which it often isn’t. 

Marketing consultant Kivi Leroux Miller recently surveyed a number of nonprofit organizations and found a majority of the respondents were either somewhat satisfied or not satisfied with their newsletter.  Some of the responses she received included organizations weren’t getting the response rates they wanted and they were unclear on their goals.
Leroux Miller also asked a more specific question about newsletter goals and found over half of the respondents had rather vague goals  like “Keep people informed about the work of our organization.” and “Remind people we are here and doing good work,” as opposed to 10% who replied “share results and gratitude with current donors.”
How does your newsletter fare?  Do you have strong goals?

As I mentioned above, newsletters still have a role in nonprofit communications.  Here are a few ways to make your newsletter shine.

Make it visual
Your donors are busy and don’t have a lot of time to read your newsletter, and likely won’t read all of it (sad, but true).  That’s why it needs to be visual.

Whether you have a print or electronic newsletter, use pictures.  With an electronic newsletter, you could include a link to a video.  Showcase engaging photos and video of your work in action. Tell a visual story.

Be reader-friendly
Continuing with the visual theme, make your newsletter is easy to read and scan. Use bold headings, short paragraphs, and at least a 12-point font.  Make sure your headings convey enough information to give your readers the gist of your stories.

Consider including just the opening paragraph in your electronic newsletter with a link to your website, so you are not cluttering up the screen with lots of text.

Short and sweet
The problem with many newsletters is they are too long. A monthly newsletter only needs three or four stories. Think quality over quantity.

Engage your readers
Another problem with newsletters is they are boring.  Your donor wants to be thanked and hear how you making a difference for the people you serve.  They are not as interested in hearing that your CEO received 
an award from the Chamber of Commerce.

Lead with a story that shows how you are helping people.  Use the inverted pyramid and put your most important story first. 

You can include profiles of board members and volunteers, but tie it back to how you are making difference.

Write in the second person and draw in your readers by being personal and conversational.

Be professional
No matter the size of your organization, make sure your newsletter looks professionalGive it a consistent look, such as always having your logo in the same place.  Using an email service provider can help with that. 

Use other channels to promote your newsletter
Include links to your newsletter on social media.  This can be useful in case your donor misses your original email.  Also, include links to your newsletter on your website.

Make it mobile friendly
Many of your donors will read your newsletter on a mobile device, so make sure it fits nicely on the screen.  Here’s some information to help you with that. 
Measure your success
One way to monitor your success is to measure click through rates.  That may not give you all the information you need.  You can also survey your readers at least once a year to get their feedback.

Take into account what you have learned.  If you are struggling with your newsletter, figure out why. 

You will have more success with your newsletter if you produce one that’s easy to read and filled stories about how you are making a difference.  Make it shine!
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