You know that saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?
Well, it’s time to fix what’s broken if you’re still using an old-fashioned, traditional fundraising newsletter.
Yep, without even seeing it, I can tell you that there are very likely some things you need to change with your print or email newsletter.
I’ve heard from many donors that they don’t even look at newsletters anymore, even if it comes from their favorite nonprofit.
You know why?
They’re boring and self-serving.
Most nonprofits are sending out a selfish fundraising newsletter. These newsletters are written by well-meaning folks who have not stopped long enough to really understand their reader and what their reader wants.
Think about how you put a newsletter together: Way too often, the fundraising newsletter falls to the bottom of the priority list because you’re crazy busy trying to get things done. One day you realize it’s time to get a newsletter out, and in a crazed attempt to do it quickly so you can check it off the list, you grasp at the first topics to hit your mind, slap articles together and reach for things to fill up space. It’s not pleasant for you and certainly not pleasant for your donor.
So how do you fix it?
How do you put a fundraising newsletter together that your donor will read and respond to?
1. Start by creating a production schedule that gives you plenty of time to write and review. Leave time for getting it printed and mailed, too. When you lay out the schedule ahead of time, you can avoid burning the midnight oil trying to get it done and out the door. And it gives you time to include input from volunteers and staff, too.
2. Next, spend some time getting to know your reader. Who are your donors and prospects? What do they really care about? I’ll give you a hint: they don’t care about the boring letter from your Executive Director or Board Chair. What they want to know is how you’re making a difference. They want to know about the people whose lives are being changed by the work your organization is doing. The more you know about your donors/readers, the better job you can do of creating your fundraising newsletter to meet their needs.
3. Step 3 is to write about the things your donor wants to know about. Share those human-interest stories that make your donors feel good about their decision to support your organization. Have photos and video ready to provide the emotional appeal that your donor is hungry for.
4. Finally, step 4 is to deliver the newsletter in the format that the donor wants. Don’t decide to send your fundraising newsletter via email just to save money on printing and postage. Send it in the way your donor wants to receive it. Remember that charitable giving is way more about what your donor wants than what you want.
If you decide that email is the way to go, then create the ultimate nonprofit email newsletter so that it contains everything your donors want and nothing they don’t.
Your ultimate goal is to build relationships with your donors and prospects. Relationships lead to donor loyalty and long-term support. Communication is critical to building a relationship and that’s where your fundraising newsletter comes in.
Think for a minute about someone you know that the only time you hear from them is when they want something. We all know someone like that, right? Don’t be that person to your donors! Don’t show up with your hand out for money all the time. Communicate with them to keep them in the loop about what’s happening.
A well-done fundraising newsletter will not only inform and education your reader, but help build that precious relationship. Follow these four steps and you’ll be well on your way.