Designing a Newsletter that Raises Money


Here are some easy, Quick Tips for designing your newsletter.

Before you begin your newsletter there’s something vitally important you need to understand; roughly 80% of people who pick up your newsletter will not read it.  All they will do is scan the headlines, picture captions, and pull quotes.  That’s it.

Here’s what that means for you.  It means that your pictures, headlines and captions matter more than colors, fonts, and even what’s in your articles.  We’re not saying the content doesn’t matter (not at all), just pointing out that most of the people won’t read the articles so you should focus your design efforts on what most people do pay attention to.

Here are three guidelines to follow;

  1. Don’t bury the good news.  If you bury the good news in your articles you’re throwing away 80% of your audience.  Instead, trumpet the good news in your headlines and pull-quotes.
  2. Have a caption for every picture – but do not use the caption to describe the picture.  Use the caption to tell the donor about their role in what’s happening in the picture.
  3. Always include a response device.  Make sure your donors have an easy way to send you a gift if they’d like.  In our experience, the increased costs of including a response device are always paid for (many times over) by the increase in response.

It’s good to remember the real goal of your newsletter; after reading (or even just glancing) at your newsletter, your donors should know that their gifts made the world a better place.  The best newsletters make Donors feel like superheroes.  (See the previous post for more info on this.)

Bonus Tip; the name of your newsletter should convey something positive.  Don’t name your newsletter as if it is an academic journal or a monthly report.  Name your newsletter as if it’s the only part of the newsletter that a donor might read — but you still want them to walk away with a good impression.  For example, if you’re working at a pet shelter, if your newsletter is named something like “Monthly Update” or (slightly better) “The Pet Report.”  Call it something like “Faithful Friends.”  Use the title to add value, don’t let it be a placeholder.

Later this week; which pictures are most effective at increasing donor retention and motivating gifts.  And to learn more, don’t forget to sign up for our free class on Newsletters That Raise More Money this Thursday, May 24.


Steven Screen is Co-Founder of The Better Fundraising Company and lead author of its blog. With over 25 years' fundraising experience, he gets energized by helping organizations understand how they can raise more money. He’s a second-generation fundraiser, a past winner of the Direct Mail Package of the Year, and data-driven.

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