Start Today for a Successful Fall Newsletter

Stacked and Bundled Newspapers

Want to make your fall newsletter easier than ever?

Start today. And here’s how getting started now will make your life easier and help you raise more money . . .

Pick what issue or program your newsletter will focus on.

In our experience, newsletters that focus on one program or activity do better than newsletters that feature stories about multiple different things.

Find three stories with clear “before’s” and clear “after’s.”

Stories can be hard to find, so start looking now. If you get stories through the people who work directly with your beneficiaries, ask those folks for stories today. Take it from someone who’s probably done this a hundred times: they like this part of their job MUCH better if you ask them early, are specific about what you want, and give them plenty of time with a clear deadline.

Write the stories now…

…even though you don’t need them for a couple of months.

I guarantee you that if you write them now, then come back to them in a month or two, you’ll see ways to improve each story. This is especially true for headlines and picture captions.

By the way, be sure to include the donor in each story. So use the word “you” at least once in every single story – and try to get it into every headline.

Knowing which stories you’re going to tell gives you lots of time to get great photos of each person. Get a close up photo of each story subject – by themselves, not in a group. The guideline I was always taught; “be close enough to see their eyes and teeth.”

Have the last story of your newsletter be a request to send in a gift today.

Make sure the reader knows that their gift will help people in the same way that they saw the people in the stories being helped.

Finally, design your newsletter to be sent in an envelope, not as a self mailer.

We’ve done multiple tests and self-mailers raise less money — we don’t even do them any more. So you’ll need an envelope, your newsletter, a reply card, and a reply envelope. Doing it this way will cost you more money, but you’ll raise more than enough additional money to cover the extra costs — and then some!


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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