How to Start Each Newsletter Story

How to Start Each Newsletter Story.

There’s something you need to know about the stories in your newsletter.

Most people won’t read them.

Now, that can be depressing. You want people to read all the amazing things that your organization is doing. And you want people to read the writing you put so much time and effort into.

But it’s the truth that most donors won’t read everything you send them.

One of the reasons the newsletters we help our clients create are successful is because we fully acknowledge that truth – and we use it.

We turn it into a super-power, in fact.

3 Tips to Start Each Story

#1: Use your first paragraph to summarize the whole story

Your first (and sometimes 2nd) paragraph should include the following three things:

  • A statement describing a Need, or a person who was in need.
  • A statement that joyfully explains that the need was met
  • A statement that gives credit to the donor for helping meet that need

Here’s why that’s so powerful: even if your donor does not read another word, they will know their gift made a real difference – and that your organization values them.

You will have gotten your main message across, even if the donor doesn’t read the whole thing!

#2: Make it as dramatic as possible

If the first goal is to get your main message across, your secondary goal is to get them to keep reading. The way you do that is to add drama.

Make your summary (basically a short story) a dramatic one that people would like to know more about!

If they want to know more, they will keep reading.

#3: Use the word “you”

Make sure the donor knows that they played a role in the story you’re telling. So be sure to use the word “you” to speak directly to the donor. Some examples:

  • “Thanks to you, she was able to receive the treatment she needed.”
  • “But thanks to your support, all was not lost!”
  • “You are going to love how you helped him!”

Here’s how I think about it. Every newsletter story has two protagonists: whoever the story is about, and the reader/donor.

We know from experience that if people think the story they are reading is about them, they are more likely to keep reading. And your newsletter stories ARE about your donors! (Or at least they should be.) The role of your newsletter is to help donors see the effects of their giving.

In the Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat framework, it’s where you Report back to donors and tell them how their gift made a difference.

You Learned This in 7th Grade

At least that’s when I learned it. It’s when Mr. Layton taught us, “Tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them.”

The first paragraph of your newsletter should “Tell them what you are going to tell them.”

Do that, and more people will keep reading.

And if more people will keep reading, more people will donate!

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