Five simple tips for getting the most out of your nonprofit’s newsletter.

Put simply, your organisation’s newsletter needs to earn its worth. Because if it’s not helping you further your cause then it’s costing you time and money you don’t have. Here are five tips for getting the most out of your news round-up:  

1. Readability is King  

Sounds obvious doesn’t it, but you’d be surprised at the rookie errors some newsletter creators make in the name of ‘design’ or squeezing in as much content as possible. When thinking about readability, you should:  

  • Use font colours and sizes that are easy to read. 
  • Be wary of ink and stock that is glossy and reflective for print newsletters. 
  • Think about the words you use – unless you know with confidence that your whole audience has specialist knowledge in your subject matter, use layman’s terms and run your copy through a free editing app such as Hemingway Editor, which will highlight sentences and phrases that are too hard to read. 
  • Consider if your newsletter should lead the way in accessible content. If your organisation supports people with disabilities, low vision, or hearing impairments, then it goes without saying that your newsletter should reflect this. Your digital images should have alternative text. Any videos should be captioned. You may want to consider an Easy Read version of your newsletter.  
  • Make e-newsletters mobile-friendly.  
  • Make it short and sweet – this is a newsletter not a magazine – and make use of links to longer content where there’s a bigger story to tell.  

 2. If your newsletter’s a fundraising tool, make it donor-focused 

We’re going to assume you work for an organisation that needs to fundraise. So it goes without saying that your newsletter should help you raise money (remind your comms people about this!). To succeed with this goal: 

  • Use your newsletter to show donors their support makes a difference. Feature success stories only made possible with their gifts. Did they provide clean drinking water, a special piece of equipment for people with disabilities, or new books for a children’s reading program? Share photos, videos and words that share these wins and touch your donors’ hearts. 
  • Consider making a particularly special story the one and only feature in an e-newsletter – you don’t have to follow the same format every time. 
  • Offer value for the donor – exercise and diet advice if you’re a health or medical research organisation, pet care tips if you work in animal welfare, or, if your nonprofit exists for social justice and human rights, guidance on how to be an advocate and ally. 
  • Include clear calls to action – do you want the reader to donate (be careful, this isn’t an appeal), sign a petition, join a webinar or come to an event?  
  • Consider segmentation. If you have the resources, you may want to create a different version of your newsletter for your major donors, bequestors and regular givers.  
  • Personalise – we all know it lifts response rates!  
  • Thank, thank, thank – gratitude should course through the veins of your newsletter.  

3. Don’t be a subject line bore 

‘Christmas Newsletter’ is not an inspiring subject line for an e-newsletter. Use words that will make your email stand out in a reader’s inbox. If you have a central story in your newsletter, use that as inspiration. Use something enticing or a surprising fact to draw your reader in.  

4. Make life easy for your readers 

  • A few days after you’ve sent your e-newsletter, send it again to people who haven’t opened it, acknowledging in the subject line that it’s a re-send. 
  • Make it easy for people to sign up for your newsletter. Your sign-up fields should be easy to find on your home page. Pin it as a call to action at the top of your Facebook feed. Social media should drive directly to the sign-up form, not to your home page where someone will have to click again. 

5. And finally…

Do not stick your newsletter in with your DM appeal! Just don’t do it! Trust us, your donors will be distracted and confused about what you’re asking of them, and it will damage your fundraising.  

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