Your nonprofit newsletter is the key communication between your organization and your supporters. It is a way to keep people updated on what you are doing as well as keep them involved in your cause.
In this article you will learn
- exactly how often you should be sending newsletters
- what to include in each newsletter
- how to design a newsletter
- and how to send your newsletters to all of your supporters
Many nonprofit organizations tend to send quarterly newsletters, but this does not seem to be enough to keep your organization and your cause at the forefront of your supporters’ minds. You want people to be thinking about your organization regularly, and you want them to feel involved in all of your projects and campaigns.
I would recommend sending at least a monthly newsletter. People will not feel like their emails are being spammed by your organization, but they will still feel connected to everything that is going on.
I’m going to be honest. I think the only newsletter that I open each month is my cell phone provider’s. Strange, I know. But I do it because I agree with their mission and they only send something once a month! My cell phone provider is Republic Wireless, a company dedicated to providing low cost service. I only pay $12/month for unlimited everything. Now tell me that you wouldn’t be happy with that kind of service. So, because I like what they are doing for me, I open their emails and check out what has been going on in their company. They don’t just give service updates or tell us about sales, but they make it feel like a community. They call their newsletter “The State of the Republic” and essentially everyone who is using their services is in their community.
This is what you want to happen for the supporters of your nonprofit. You want to send them a newsletter each month that gives them a sense of community. You want them to feel like they are PART of your organization, not just someone that has donated once or twice. If your supporters feel like they are part of a community, they will open your newsletters, feel connected to your cause, share your mission, and participate in your calls-to-action.
After you have decided how often to send out your nonprofit’s newsletter, it is time to come up with the content.
The three most important parts of every newsletter you will ever write are the main message, the visuals, and the call to action.
The main message in your newsletters will change from month to month. Here are 3 of the top messages that you want to sent to your supporters:
1. Project Updates
We already decided that the goal of your newsletter is to create a community out of your supporters.
How can we build this community?
By keeping people involved and connected to what is going on in your organization! Thus, one of the best things to include in your monthly newsletter is updates on your projects. Let’s say that you are an organization building schools in the Philippines. My guess is that most of your supporters will never go to the Philippines and actually visit one of those schools. They will probably never get physical proof that you even built one of those schools.
So, send them updates!
In your monthly newsletter, you can tell them about the progress that you are making on a particular school. You can tell them about challenges that your team has worked through in the past month. You can even tell them a funny story about the building process or how one of your team members made a cultural fool of himself because of the language barrier.
2. Beneficiary Stories
Not only do you want your supporters to feel connected to your organization, but you also want them to feel connected to those you serve. My favorite kind of newsletter is one that tells me about the beneficiaries.
You can do this by highlighting someone’s story. Let’s say that your organization is a ballet theater. Tell me about one of the students who has performed there. What is his/her story? Where did they come from? How long have they been dancing? What challenges have they overcome? What do they hope to do in the future?
Once again, your goal is to connect your supporters to your organization, cause, and beneficiaries, so write to that goal.
3. New or Existing Fundraising Campaigns
A third topic for your newsletters can be any campaign that you are working on. We are an organization that digs wells in Ethiopia and we just set a new fundraising campaign to raise the money for 7 new wells in 4 months.
Tell your supporters about the campaign!
You can tell them about what you set that goal, what communities you are hoping to reach, how much money you have raised, how much money you still need to raise, a story of someone from one of the villages that you hope to impact, etc.
The possibilities are really endless for the newsletters that you can send!
Once you have the main message of your newsletter, it is time to move on to the visuals.
We are a HIGHLY visual society. In fact, research has found that about 90% of the information that is transmitted to our brains is visual.
Not only do people want images and videos in the content they consume, but they also “demand” that it be high quality.
It is important that you accomplish these two things in each newsletter that you send. You want to, first, provide your supporters with visuals, and second, you want to provide your supports with quality visuals.
When I talk about visuals, I am mainly talking about video content and images. Now, I know that there are tons of other kinds of visuals including icons, infographics, gifs, etc., but right now let’s just focus on the top two.
Videos are incredibly effective ways to connect your supporters to your organization and your community.
Videos can literally take your supporters into another world. If your organization works in Thailand, you can actually show them what it is like to live in Thailand.
You can incorporate videos in any or all of your nonprofit newsletters. In fact, you can opt to send your supporters a video that tells them the main message of your newsletter, rather than having it be in addition to text.
Some videos you might consider are…
- Have your executive director tell the community (your supporters) what is going on. I have seen this be really effective for a video filtering company called VidAngel. Here is their video:
- Tell a beneficiary’s story through a video.
- Help your supporters envision and “visit” a place that you are working.
Videos really are one of the most effective ways to connect your supporters with your cause, especially if they can’t actually go to the locations that you are working.
I would assert that images are equally important to videos in each of your nonprofit newsletters. You can use images to highlight important parts of your text, break up a long section of text (if your newsletter is especially lengthy), introduce your supporters to beneficiaries or team members, etc.
I recommend using a minimum of 2-3 pictures in every newsletter that you send. You really want your supporters to connect visually to your organization.
Once you have written the newsletter and created the visuals, it is time to add in a call-to-action.
NEVER send a newsletter without a call-to-action.
Let me say that again:
NEVER SEND A NEWSLETTER WITHOUT A CALL-TO-ACTION.
You always want to give your supporters something that they can do to support your organization. Now, you don’t always have to ask them to donate to your cause, because that can get draining and monotonous. There are, however, quite a few other ways that people can get involved!
Here are 6 calls-to-action that you could use in your newsletters:
- Come and Volunteer
- Send a letter to someone we serve
- Buy our product
- Fundraise for your Birthday
- Connect to Our Social Media
What you have IN your newsletter each month (the newsletter content) is just as important as how your newsletter looks (the newsletter design).
As I mentioned above, we are a highly visual society. Not only are we concerned with the videos and images that we see, but we are also (either consciously or unconsciously) concerned with HOW things look… the layout of a newsletter, the blank space, the text, etc.
Here are a few different newsletter designs that appeal to our visual society. As you look at these templates, notice the spaces that they have for visuals, text, and blank space. Most people today like to see a clean background, quite a bit of blank space, and large visuals. People also tend to shy away from huge text blocks or lengthy monologues.
Two of the most common ways to send newsletters is by using Mailchimp or Convertkit. Mailchimp is free if you have less than 500 people to send to (perfect for a small nonprofit just starting out), but I have noticed that people tend to switch to Convertkit once they start getting more followers because there are more options for templates and analytics, plus people tend to be more pleased with the service that Convertkit provides.
Here are links to both of these providers:
If you would like any more help designing or sending your nonprofit newsletters, be sure to reach out! Plus, feel free to contact me for more examples of anything in this article!