Even if your organization sends out a newsletter via mail, it may benefit from using an electronic or email newsletter. While print newsletters have their place, organizations can send out email newsletters more frequently to stay in touch with stakeholders. Use the tips below to make your newsletter more effective and generate some additional funds for the organization.
First, think about who your readers are. Who are your stakeholders? Why do they care what you have to say? What do they care about? The more you know your stakeholders, the more you are able to provide information that they are interested in reading about. Of course, the challenge is often getting them to actually open the email. This can be overcome by using a subject line that your readers are interested in. When you know what readers care about, you are able to tweak their interests with a subject line that will get them to open the newsletter.
Many people are inclined to write about their organization and its needs. Instead, try thinking about your newsletter as a way to meet the needs of your readers. For ministries, the newsletter can be a way to minister to your stakeholders. It is understood by most that organizations and ministries have financial needs, but instead of focusing on these needs, turn the need into an opportunity to serve your target population. Here’s what I mean….
ABC Ministry has been in existence for six years and has often struggled with raising enough funds to support the work of the ministry which exists to provide emotional, physical and spiritual supports to homeless individuals. Currently, the ministry finds itself in a position that without additional funds, they will be forced to lay-off staff. Instead of focusing on the need for funds so that staff will not have to be let go, focus on the how the reduced staffing will impact those served by the ministry.
This simple tweak will help keep your stakeholders engaged.
Next, send your newsletter on a regular basis….not just when you need something. Your email newsletter provides an opportunity for you to stay connected with your stakeholders. Share with them things that are happening in the organization…how are lives being changed….what is the latest research in your field….what are your plans for the future? If you are not presently sending a newsletter, you may want to start monthly and work to build the frequency. Believe it or not, if you send a newsletter out on a consistent basis, your readers will begin to look for it.
Newsletters for nonprofits should have a donate button included that takes the reader to a page where they can contribute using your on-line system. Make this process as simple as possible. Research shows that when the process becomes too complicated, people give up….and your organization loses out on a donation.
Are you looking for more volunteers, include a listing of the current volunteer opportunities. Detail the volunteer positions including time and skill requirements. Your newsletter can include a link to your volunteer application. And, remember, volunteers are usually an organization’s largest and most consistent donors.
While print newsletters will often use lots of photos, marketers tell us that email newsletters are most effective with few photos. Photos often take longer to load, and during the time the photos are loading, you are losing the interest of your readers.
Finally, instead of using your basic email to send a newsletter, use one of the many newsletter services available. Newsletter services allow you to standardize your newsletter, so it has the same basic appearance each week (this will increase your read rate). Additionally, using such a service will allow you to easily track the percentage of people on your list who actually open the email, who clicks through, etc. And, if you have someone who “unsubcsribes,” the system will take care of it for you. By the way, don’t expect to have 100% open rate. A 15-20% open rate is pretty good, over 20% is great and over 30% is OUTSTANDING.
One last thing….you want to keep growing your email list so that you are reaching new people and sharing the story of your organization with them. Be sure to include a “newsletter sign-up” on your website.
Have questions about email newsletters? Contact us, we will be happy to help!