Tips to Energize Your Donor Newsletter
Keep content fresh
Organizations should be sure that the content they include in newsletters is new, not recycled from other sources or organization publications. Ahern recommended 15 potential story ideas nonprofits can include in their newsletters that would be of interest to donors. They are:
- Program news. What are your recent accomplishments? Is your organization growing, shrinking, updating or changing in any way? Do you have anecdotes that reveal success or promise? Do you have a new program? If so, what problem does it solve? What are your hopes for it?
- Tips and how-tos. Each organization has a unique body of knowledge. Share it with donors in the form of interesting stories, e.g., "The 10 Warning Signs of Childhood Depression" or "12 Things You Can Do Today That Will Save the Environment Tomorrow."
- Trend spotting. Articles that look ahead at coming major developments, e.g., "Looking at Next Year: Where We See Healthcare Needed."
- Client case histories. How have your programs changed a life for the better? Include conflict, tension, doubt and obstacles, as well as triumph.
- Research and development. The world is constantly changing. Does your organization have plans for the changes? Talk about them.
- Behind the scenes. Show readers something they wouldn't ordinarily get to see if they weren't donors.
- In another's shoes. A "what it's really like" testimony can stir empathy in donors. Both anecdotes and testimonial build trust quickly.
- Financial news. "People are surprisingly curious about your finances," Ahern said. "Show that you have nothing to hide." A pie chart or graph that shows your financial breakdown will work.
- Photos with captions. And never without, Ahern said.
- Columns. Be an authority on topics related to your cause. What myths can you explode? E.g., frequently asked questions, myths and facts, a donor talking about why she gives, letters, and comments from your blog.
- The "update" story. Is there a story related to your cause or that was in the media that originated with your organization? If so, build on it and keep donors informed.
- "Did you know?" story. For example, a breakout of "How $25 Can Make a Difference."
- Other ways to give. "Your newsletter is critical for promoting online and planned giving," Ahern said. Keep donors in the loop about other giving options, e.g., challenge grants.
- Teasers for your Web site. "Your Web site can store vast amounts of information," Ahern said. "Use the newsletter to send people there." He noted that research has found that the No. 1 reason people don't give online is because they didn't know they could.
- Offers. Information and publications; a tour; special events; classes; sign-up for an e-newsletter; etc.
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