Follow these steps to make content planning a breeze
By Amanda Kirby, Strategist/Account Director
Newsletters are a great way to share the latest news and events with your supporters! They can also be an incredibly effective fundraising tool.
Ever wonder where to start when planning your newsletters? Here are my 5 tips for effective newsletters that will help you start planning for your next issue today!
1. Share success stories
This first tip for effective newsletters is central to your content strategy. While your donors likely understand the need in your community, and they’re familiar with the incredible work your Mission does, don’t hesitate to remind them! Newsletters are a great way to highlight how their support (and financial contributions) have made a difference.
The power of storytelling can help provide concrete examples of the lives changed by your Mission…
- A single mother who needed safe shelter… and discovered new life through spiritual counseling and guidance to secure permanent housing for her family.
- A veteran overwhelmed by PTSD who turned to alcohol to cope… but found freedom from addiction through your recovery program.
- A low-income family who struggled to afford food… and received healthy groceries and meals through your food box program.
What feels better than seeing how your impact has made a difference in the lives of your neighbors in need? These stories (along with powerful photos!) help paint the picture of lives changed – thanks in large part to donor support – so make sure you’re highlighting your wins in your next newsletter.
2. Communicate the need
Newsletters provide a great opportunity to share some seasonal needs at your organization. As we start heading into fall with Thanksgiving right around the corner, you might want to highlight the need for support around meals and the colder months –
- Specific donation items like potatoes, pies or canned vegetables
- Dollars needed to fund community meals and food boxes
- Volunteer needs to serve meals to guests and sort donations
- Donations for heavy coats and blankets to keep guests warm
It’s always a good idea to share these needs in your newsletter to get the word out among donors, volunteers and gift-in-kind supporters.
3. Promote your events
Never miss an opportunity to promote your next event! Many donors rely on regular newsletters to see what’s going on at the Mission and stay current on news and events.
Have a Fall Food Drive coming up? Make sure to include details on your needs list, date, time and location. Planning your Annual Banquet? Don’t forget to include your newsletters in your communication strategy. Have an event page? Add a QR code to your next newsletter to link readers directly to your website for more information or to purchase tickets!
4. Educate your donors
Unlike a monthly fundraising appeal, where you only have so much room to ask for support, newsletters offer more real estate to effectively educate donors, present a need and invite donors to give. Here are a few approaches you can take to educate your donors in your newsletters.
- Share your impact through stats. A little goes a long way here. Select 4-6 key stats you want to communicate to highlight how donor support makes a difference… and how your organization has served the community.
As we look toward the end of the year, consider highlighting year-end statistics on the number of meals served, nights of shelter, hours of counseling or medical care over the course of the year. Another tip: Add graphics to really help the donor visualize this impact!
- Provide local statistics on homelessness and hunger. With rising costs, more and more men, women and families are finding themselves on the brink of poverty. Sharing some numbers on the growing need in your community can help drive home the need for organizations like your Mission and illustrate how the Mission provides solutions to meet this challenge.
- Inform donors about your organization’s programs. Many donors may have started giving to provide meals or shelter for neighbors in need. Newsletters can be an effective way to share how life transformation also takes place at your Mission.
Maybe you want to highlight the success rate of your employment program and talk about the steps that guests take to prepare for a new career. Or maybe you have some exciting developments at your family center and want to share how the Mission is serving homeless families in the community. This can be an opportunity to share with donors how real change takes place within your walls.
A word of caution: Research shows that sharing too many stats can actually hurt your fundraising because it lessens a donor’s emotional response. So this tip for effective newsletters works best alongside powerful storytelling – share the need via stats, then show how your organization provided a solution that impacted one individual’s life.
5. Don’t forget the ask
Last but certainly not least, remember: You don’t get what you don’t ask for. While newsletters can be a great stewardship piece, they are also a valuable fundraising tool.
Always include an opportunity for the donor to give through your newsletter. Include a reply device and reply envelope, and always share a URL with an option to donate online.
By following these tips for effective newsletters, you can highlight your success stories, share current needs – and help compel your community to give to your organization! If you would like to learn more about how BDI can help you plan a successful content strategy for your next newsletter, I’d love to share more. Feel free to email me with any questions.
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Check out last week’s Quick Shot – “When to Use ‘Need’ and ‘Joy’ Photos in Nonprofit Fundraising”