By John Killoran
Your email newsletter is a great way to stay in touch with supporters, but using extra tools and strategies can have a huge payoff! Check out the reasons why.
Like all nonprofits, your organization relies on the support of its donors and partners.You know that maintaining strong relationships year in and year out is essential to continually growing a stable base of support.
You already know, too, how to draft an effective email solicitation that attracts attention, gets to the point, and directly provides a way to give. But do you put this much thought and strategy into your email newsletters?
Think back to the earliest days of your organization. Starting a nonprofit requires consciously building a tight network of initial support to get your efforts off the ground. There’s no reason why actively developing strategies to keep everyone informed and involved shouldn’t still be a priority now that you’ve grown!
It becomes surprisingly easy to drift away from your founding mission when you don’t prioritize communication.That’s why email newsletters are such a crucial tool for nonprofits looking to stay focused, driven, and in touch with their stakeholders.
While every organization understands the need to stay in touch with donors and volunteers, they might not recognize all the interconnected reasons why focusing on your newsletter pays off in the long run. Crafting a perfect email newsletter gives your nonprofit the opportunity to:
- Promote all your digital giving outlets.
- Loop everyone in on your projects and goals.
- Boost overall donor and volunteer engagement.
- Connect all your campaigns and events.
- Build stronger relationships with donors.
Strengthening even one element of your email newsletters will boost their overall effect! By crafting more engaging strategies for your newsletters, you can make a serious long-term investment in your nonprofit’s ability to attract and retain committed supporters.
1. Promote all your digital giving outlets.
Email newsletters are a perfect place to promote and explain new donation tools that your nonprofit adopts as its strategies evolve.
This doesn’t necessarily mean soliciting donations! You already conduct separate email campaigns to reach your fundraising goals. While you can certainly ask for donations in your newsletter, your recipients are presumably already committed to supporting your work.
Rather, focus on raising awareness and explaining new donation tools and platforms in the context of your next fundraising campaigns.
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Consider how you could promote and explain these donation platforms in your newsletter:
- Text-to-give tools to incorporate into your events
- Mobile-optimized donation forms to boost mobile donations
- Crowdfunding campaigns for specific goals or projects
- Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns leading up to major events
Plus, your email newsletter provides the perfect opportunity to learn more about your supporters’ preferred methods of communication and giving. Linking your recipients to a quick survey can have a major payoff for your mobile engagement levels by helping you refine your marketing and digital fundraising strategies.
2. Loop everyone in on your projects and goals.
Another reason to focus on your email newsletters is that keeping all your donors, volunteers, and stakeholders fully informed about your projects and goals is the first step to getting them excited and involved!
Use your newsletter to announce your next campaign or provide a sneak peek of your next major event. Give your readers the sense that they’ve received a special ‘inside scoop’ to build excitement and rally support. You might share updates on any of your projects, like:
- Client success stories
- Upcoming fundraising campaigns
- New community initiatives
- Advocacy projects and campaigns
- Capital campaigns and major developmental goals
- Grant writing projects and donor surveys
- New partners and sponsorships
Aside from making it easier to get everyone involved, sharing regular updates is useful because it provides the opportunity to collect more feedback. Keeping everyone informed and engaged means you’ll be able to gather more information and insights to guide your plans.
How well do you know your donors? Simply asking for feedback on your projects or campaigns with a suggestion form in your newsletter can be a surprisingly effective method for guiding your marketing and fundraising strategies.
Plus, your most dedicated supporters will have plenty of ideas of how you could approach your goals. For instance, a longtime volunteer can likely share important insights as you develop a programming proposal for a grant application!
3. Boost overall donor and volunteer engagement.
Keeping everyone aware of new ways to support your organization’s work and updated on upcoming projects will provide a natural boost to donor engagement. Your newsletter recipients will feel more involved, which will encourage them to get more involved!
This engagement boost will take several familiar forms:
- Digital engagement. Keep your base of support updated on your online fundraising and social media campaigns to see an increase in digital interactions.
- Volunteering. Use your newsletter to make volunteering easier. Promote upcoming projects, provide sign-up forms, and mention any incentives you’ll offer.
- Financial support. Explain new campaigns and tools in your newsletter, giving your recipients a more intimate view of your goals and planning process.
Remember to take the opportunity in your email newsletter to provide some easy tools for recipients to further their engagement, too.
Corporate philanthropy search tools are a great example. Include a search tool that allows your supporters to search for their employers’ corporate philanthropy programs. Matching gifts and volunteer grants are the perfect way for supporters to boost their impact.
These programs are generally not used much, so some programs can be extremely generous. If your organization has an active volunteer program, check out the top volunteer grant companies from 360MatchPro for an idea of the extra funds you might be eligible to receive!
As a way to potentially address all of your supporters at once, your email newsletter is the best place to promote extra tools and options that can boost the impact of your supporters’ engagement with your work.
4. Connect all your campaigns and events.
Actively connecting your various activities is a great way to grow engagement and make more effective solicitations when fundraising. Your email newsletter is the perfect place to put this strategy into practice!
Solicitations become more effective when supporters can clearly understand how all your events, activities, and campaigns fit together in pursuit of your mission.
Think about it: an online fundraising campaign that feels disjointed or disconnected from any of your nonprofit’s overarching goals isn’t particularly inspiring.
Rather, use your newsletter to clarify the connections! For example, here’s how you might explain and promote some campaign elements in your newsletter by framing them around the shared purpose of supporting an upcoming 5K:
- A peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Encourage recipients to donate, volunteer, and form teams as you raise pledges for the big race.
- Your marketing campaign. As you promote the 5K online, ask your newsletter readers to share your posts and invitations on social media.
- Merchandise promotion. Link to your online store, t-shirt crowdfunding campaign, or order form for your 5K shirts. Or explain how teams can design their own!
- The grand finale event. Promote the big 5K in your newsletter, invite all your recipients, and provide important necessary information for participants and attendees.
In this example, all the cross-promotional effort and campaigning will result in a hugely successful event! Giving supporters multiple ways to get involved and using your newsletter to clearly explain how it all connects to support the 5K gives your entire network of support a clearer, more focused goal.
5. Build stronger relationships with donors.
Finally, remember that the long-term benefit of focusing effort on your email newsletter is that it’s an effective tool for expressing gratitude to your supporters.
By thanking your donors and volunteers and showing how their support directly helps further your mission, you can reinforce those important relationships. Plus, you’ll be contributing to a healthy culture for your nonprofit, ensuring it can retain more and more satisfied donors.
There are a number of ways to use your email newsletter to build stronger relationships with supporters:
- Provide updates and success stories on campaigns and projects.
- Promote and thank your important community partners.
- Recognize individuals who go above and beyond in supporting your work.
- Invite your newsletter recipients to special thank-you events.
- Share surveys and field suggestions to better refine your retention strategies.
Thanking your supporters means you’ll need to switch out of solicitation mode for a moment.
Building strong mutual relationships and genuinely expressing your gratitude does more in the long run for retaining valuable support than constantly soliciting more funds, even if your donors are consistently happy to support your campaigns.
A great way to make sure your messages of thanks in your newsletter stay effective is to focus on the language you use. Drop the fundraising jargon, and keep your tone warm and natural. After all, the support of these important partners is worth celebrating!
The most basic function of a nonprofit email newsletter is to share updates with your supporters and announce new projects, but incorporating some smart strategies and being aware of all the roles a newsletter can play will make them even more effective.
By using your email newsletter as a space to communicate, explain new donation tools, provide ways to boost engagement, and connect all your campaigns, you’ll strengthen your donor relations overall!
John Killoran is CEO of Snowball, an exciting new fundraising technology that makes it easy for people to donate in two clicks from text, email, web and social media sites.John pioneered SMTP payments and has been a major innovator in the mobile payments space for the past 5 years. When he is not running a company, he is cooking food for his family and telling his dogs to stop barking.