Many organizations wonder whether or not they should continue to send a newsletter to their mailing list. If done correctly, a quarterly newsletter can help you stay in touch with your donors and provide them with regular updates about what is happening in the nonprofit or ministry. Below are tips to strengthen your organization’s newsletter and use it as a viable fundraising strategy.
The first step to an effective newsletter is to determine its purpose. Unfortunately, if asked, many organizations will say that they send a newsletter because it is expected or because they have to. If this is what you think, or even worse, your organization has made the decision to stop its newsletter, you are missing the boat.
A newsletter provides you with an opportunity to help your donors feel connected to the work of the organization and allows them to be “heroes.” What do we mean by making donors heroes? Whether we admit it or not, each of us wants to feel like we are making a difference in the things we do….the work we do, the money we give, etc.
Your newsletter provides you with an opportunity to show your donors how valuable their contributions are to the organization. In other words, share with them what you have accomplished through the gifts your donors have provided. This is your headline story!
We have all heard the adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” so you will want to be certain to include some photos as well. Be sure not to use pictures where clients can be identified, unless you have a signed photo release on file.
Tell a story. Use space in the newsletter to tell a story about a life that has been changed through the work of your organization. Again, do not include information such as name or other distinguishing characteristics but give the reader a picture of someone you have served.
Provide a brief overview of financials. This may be in graph or table form, since many people don’t like to read numbers (and often don’t understand what they are reading), keep the financials simple.
Researchers have found that it is more effective to send a newsletter in an envelope with a “live stamp.” A live stamp is a first-class stamp, not one that that has received the special nonprofit rate. Additionally, when letters are sent using the nonprofit rate, you will not receive notification of address changes or updates. This means that you could lose touch with your donors, and after working so hard to keep them, you certainly don’t want to lose them because of a mail glitch. Researchers have also found that mailing the letters in an envelope is more effective than simply folding the document over and using it as a self-mailer.
If you are not presently sending a newsletter, you might want to try by sending one out quarterly over the next year. Include a response envelope (for recipients to send you a donation) in each newsletter. Ultimately, this strategy should help with donor loyalty…just this week I talked with an organization who has more than 14,000 individuals in their donor database. While that’s great, what they are finding is that many in the database have no idea who they are because the organization has not made any effort to stay in touch. Instead, they have only continued to send appeal letters to ask for more money.
There are obviously several issues here.
- Keeping donors costs less than acquiring new ones. So, do everything you can to keep the ones you have.
- Staying in contact only with donors when you are asking for money does not enhance relationships.
- Relationships = More Money
And, in case you are still wondering whether you should give newsletters a try… researchers have found that they are most effective for faith-based organizations that serve locally versus serving on a national or international level.
Want to implement a newsletter into your funding plan? Contact us, we can help.