Focus On: Newsletters: Start Spreadin' the News
Newsletters, especially of the online variety, allow fundraisers to build and maintain relationships with stakeholders long before they even think about anteing up the greenbacks. Donors and prospects alike can now get engaged more often, and with more personal relevance — making it easier and more cost effective for nonprofits to forge links with individuals primed for giving.
Chris G. Cleghorn, executive vice president of direct and interactive marketing for Easter Seals, says the organization’s goal for its newsletters is to create frequent touch points with constituents and offer diverse ways for people to get involved, such as learning about services they didn’t know about, participating in online votes and petitions, or responding to special fundraising-challenge campaigns.
“Fundraising is one of many objectives we are trying to achieve with our newsletters,” Cleghorn attests. “Our primary goal is to increase engagement among our users and help them more readily access information about Easter Seals.”
Easter Seals, which aims to help improve the lives of people with disabilities, offers two e-newsletters for specialized audiences: “Legislative Action Network,” a bimonthly that shares current policy and legislative activity; and “Project Action,” a monthly that provides resources and information about accessible public transportation for transportation providers and people with disabilities.
According to Cleghorn, regional variation is the key element of content for Easter Seals’ e-newsletter. In 2002, the organization designed its online network to allow each of its 90 affiliates to have its own Web site; the core articles for each version of the monthly e-newsletter are pulled from each affiliate home page.
Similarly, there are several articles of broad interest that highlight top stories from the national Web site. In all, roughly 25,000 individuals receive Easter Seals e-newsletters.
As far as the “ask” goes, each newsletter offers the reader — who on average is 50 years old — multiple opportunities to get involved, including making a contribution. The organization launches four nationally focused e-mail campaigns a year, which consist of three to four e-mail messages over a six- to eight-week period. Each local affiliate can choose to send focused e-newsletters and updates up to four times a year.