Focus On: Newsletters: Start Spreadin' the News
“We feel it’s important that Easter Seals constituents hear from us frequently enough that they stay aware of us but not so much that they feel hassled by constant e-mails,” Cleghorn says.
For the National Wildlife Federation, a member-supported wildlife and environmental conservation group based in Reston, Va., the task of producing a compelling e-newsletter was a simple one: Bring it to people’s backyards.
Currently, NWF is working toward dramatically increasing the relevancy of its newsletters (a special newsletter just for teachers is slated to drop later this year), so it can better communicate with the 800,000 subscribers who have signed up to receive news updates via e-mail.
Roughly 100,000 subscribers get NWF’s “Backyard Wildlife Habitat” newsletter, a segmented publication that provides tips and news for people who live in remote, rural areas.
For example, a recent issue provided information on container gardening for wildlife: “ … [It] is ideal for the urban naturalist trying to maximize blooms per square inch. Discover how just a few simple guidelines will result in healthy plants cascading over pots and enticing pollinators and other wildlife to visit. ... Also, to learn more about pollinators and how beneficial they are to your yard, click here. ... “
One of the goals of the newsletter, aside from delivering tips on how to enjoy wildlife, is to urge readers to register their backyards in NWF’s Backyard Wildlife Habitat program, for $15. More than 40,000 yards have been certified around the world.
But Tom McGuire, vice president of membership programs for NWF, says soliciting a donation is not the main objective.
“The strategy [NWF] has taken is to look at the newsletters as relationship-building devices rather than fundraising devices,” he says. “E-mail is a very inexpensive way to get our information out there and get people involved in our work. We now can afford to service [new members] without necessarily asking for donations.”