The Better Newsletter
Ask donors what they want from nonprofits, and they’ll seldom say, “Appeal letters.” Even more rarely do they say they want e-mails. And do they ever ask for telemarketing calls?
But many donors do want newsletters. A newsletter can improve donor retention and upgrade rates. It can pull donors into deeper, more involved relationships. And it can raise net revenue at enviable rates.
Sound good? Here, in four steps, is how to give your newsletter maximum positive impact:
1. Make it about your donors — not you.
This is all you really need to know: The topic of every issue shouldn’t be how great you are, but how great your donors are. That’s how you catch and hold your readers’ attention, and lead them into deeper relationships with your organization.
Not by standing on a soapbox and preaching to them. Not by trying to educate and improve them. Not even through objective journalism and facts about your organization’s success.
The pages of a truly motivating newsletter are packed with “mission accomplished” stories — always clearly tied back to the donor’s involvement. Nearly every word and every image should be proof that the donor’s giving matters. If it’s not about the donor, leave it out!
2. Tell stories.
We humans comprehend our world through stories. Facts and figures are important, but not memorable or persuasive. They should play a supporting role to the stories. Newsletter stories should more or less follow this outline:
* Beginning. The situation before you were involved. Something was broken, incomplete, dramatically wrong.
* Middle. You got involved. Things started to turn around. Maybe there were setbacks and difficulties, but things got better.
* End. Success! It worked. You — and your donors — made the world a better place. At this point, it’s good to directly address the donor and thank her for her part in this transformation.