Successful Newsletters – The Two Things You Need to Know


We’re doing a series of posts on effective donor newsletters leading up to our free class on May 24th.  We’ll start with some big picture advice, then work our way into the details.  Here we go . . .

The best nonprofit newsletters share two things in common.

#1  Newsletters are not collections of stories and news items.  In other words, the best newsletters are not simply newspapers reporting the facts.

Instead, the best newsletters have a clear editorial perspective.  They have a clear agenda for what the nonprofit wants the reader to think when they finish reading.  Every piece of content is used to a) show [not tell] the donor the amazing changes that have happened because of the donor’s gift, b) thank the donor for making those changes, c) make it clear that there are more people who need help today, and d) make it easy to give another gift at that very moment.

#2  Donor-centric newsletters always remember that donors fund outcomes, not processes.  In other words, donors give gifts in order to create a change in the world.  Donors are almost always more interested in that change than they are in the process or program that the nonprofit uses to make the change.

So the best newsletters are always about people – the beneficiaries.  They tell the stories of what their lives were like before – and what their lives are like today because the donor gave a gift.  (The least effective newsletters are about the nonprofit itself; the people who work there, its programs and its processes.)

When a newsletter is done well, donors quickly see the impacts of their gifts.  Their satisfaction goes up and they are more likely to give another gift, either in response to that newsletter or to the next appeal letter or newsletter that they receive.  They also tend to be donors to your organization for longer.



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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