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The Effective Fundraising Newsletter By Douglas K. Shaw

Your Fundraising Newsletter is Essential to Success

Newsletters are essential to fundraising strategy. They offer an opportunity to close the loop with fundraising appeals by reporting back to donors on what their generosity has accomplished. But it can be easy to lose sight of the immense fundraising impact newsletters have when you start to see them as a chore . . . one more thing to check off your to-do list . . . one more deadline to meet.

Every successful newsletter has the same key components—elements that, when combined, create an engaging piece of donor communication that excites your donor base and encourages them to get involved! It can be as easy as following these simple steps to create a donor-focused newsletter that produces exceptional fundraising results.

1.   GATHER HEARTFELT CONTENT

Most fundraising appeals are two pages and tend to be copy heavy. Newsletters, on the other hand, present an exciting opportunity to treat your donors to a visual view of their generosity at work. As you build your newsletters, always keep a heartfelt story of need front and center. But because you have more space, you can also report any events that have occurred recently within your organization—and hopefully an uplifting success story!

If you need ideas for what to include in your donor-focused newsletter, consider the following:

A letter from your President/CEO

A story of need (primary focus)

A life-transformation story

A success story

An update on giving

2.   WRITE WITH THE DONOR IN MIND

A donor-focused newsletter is for the donor to enjoy, not for the organization providing it. That means every word written should stay laser-focused on engaging the donor. These articles should be flooded with “you” language . . . and even more motivational would be to tell the donor “YOU did this.”

Keep these tips in mind as you write for your newsletter:

1. Alert the readers that they will be uplifted by what’s enclosed.

2. Thank the donors for all they’ve helped provide.

3. Tell engaging stories of success, as personal as possible: nothing changes people like a change in people.

4. Ask for further involvement: volunteering of time and talent, praying fervently for the work of the mission, or sharing the news with others to partner in this great work via social media or word of mouth.

5. Encourage the donor to stay involved and offer another opportunity to contribute.

3.   USE A COMPELLING LAYOUT—STORIES WITH PHOTOGRAPHS

The reality is, most people won’t read every word of your newsletter. But, when you include a variety of powerful photographs that capture multiple emotions, the photography will stop donors in their tracks and get them to engage on a new level with the content.

Also, encourage your designer to hone in on key bits of copy that speak directly to the donors’ impact—a powerful pull quote, a moving headline, a key statistic. This will help draw donors into the articles and stories.

4.   PUT IT ALL TOGETHER AND MONITOR THE RESULTS!

As your newsletters visually connect your donors to the recipients of their generosity—one by one—they will walk away feeling closer to your mission. And because you have created a resource that informs them of the impact they are having, not only are they more likely to give a larger, recurring gift . . . but they will also be more receptive to your next appeal! You are sharing the good work they are helping make possible. They will certainly want to dig deeper and give more for an even greater impact.

5.  PACKAGING YOUR NEWSLETTER FOR INCREASED REVENUE

A carrier envelope, reply envelope, newsletter, and reply device: these key components—in conjunction with elements 1 through 4—are essential to curating an effective, revenue-driving newsletter package.

116% MORE REVENUE! That’s the increase one client saw after adjusting their newsletter layout and package.

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Douglas K. Shaw is the Chairman and CEO of Douglas Shaw & Associates.  Doug provides vision, leadership, and strategic thinking to an exceptionally talented group of professionals committed to being a part of what is right with the world and the nonprofit organizations they’re privileged to serve.


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