8 Brilliant Non-profit Newsletter Ideas from the Experts

    Are you struggling with your newsletter? Need some fresh ideas to help make sure it gets read and has an impact? Well, we spoke with some noted non-profit consultants, writers and marketing experts to bring you 8 unique ideas that will help you revive your newsletter and get donors interested again. Here they are:

    #1 Something artsy

    What about including some kind of art. Maybe a poem, a drawing or painting by someone associated with the organization. Non-profit consultant, Vikki Walton, suggests asking your clients to name one word that they would like to see happen and then incorporating those words into word art. The art could then tie into a story about the clients you help and their dreams.

    #2 Report on Outcomes

    Numbers impress, my friends! How about using them to tell a story about the success of your latest event, the people helped by your latest project, or about your mission in general? According to John Haydon, popular non-profit social media strategist and founder of consulting firm Inbound Zombie, a report on outcomes is a great addition to any newsletter. After all, “research shows it has a direct impact on the lifetime value of a donor.”

    #3 A keepsake

    This one from Jeremy Gregg, executive director of The PLAN Fund, and self-proclaimed Nonprofiteer. He suggests featuring a famous quote in a format that the reader might be able to cut out and put on their fridge/bulletin board/cubicle wall. Maybe the quote is something that ties in to the cause and reminds the donor why they support you.

    #4 Tips and advice

    How about some helpful advice or tips for the reader? A vegetarian non-profit, for example, might put a vegetarian recipes in their newsletter each month. This is great value added for the reader and something they’ll appreciate. Julie Rodriguez, a freelance writer who used to work at an educational non-profit, says that she used to include informational articles on school advocacy, different learning styles, and learning disabilities in their newsletter. These kinds of messages, she says, are the most likely to get forwarded, because they teach the reader something new or interesting.

    #5 Pictures, pictures, pictures

    Susan McLean, grant writer and development professional, suggests trading in the lengthy articles for descriptive pictures which can tell your story faster. The fact is, many people just don’t read all that content, so she says concentrate “the most compelling written content in headlines and captions.” Gayle L. Gifford, nonprofit consultant and strategist, also thinks pictures are the way to go. To make the most of them, however, she says to use “pictures with big faces, not big checks” and use “captions that tell a compelling story of need or results.”

    #6 A video

    A video is also a great alternative to long, wordy articles. According to Elaine Fogel, writer, consultant, and marketer, getting your clients, donors and volunteers on camera to share their enthusiasm for your cause can go much farther than words alone. And you can make one quite easily, without the need for expensive equipment. Handheld minicams, she says, take excellent HD video and post easily in most email service provider (ESP) software.

    #7 Wish box

    Since people and businesses often have items or services they’d be willing to donate if they only knew who could use them, says nonprofit consultant and freelance writer, Patricia O’Malley, why not include a wish box in your next newsletter. List items or services that you would like to have, such as office furnishings, supplies, or advertising space and give your readers a chance to help. The New York City schools have one, says Patricia. One teacher asked for a used piano and got it!?

    #8 Ambassador’s corner

    Another idea to solicit help from your supporters comes from Marketing and Communications Consultant, Karen Luttrell. She suggests creating an “Ambassador’s Corner” and she writes about this idea in her blog. Many supporters, she says, want to do more than donate. “They also want to be involved and feel like part of a community working together to promote your cause.” So in each issue of your newsletter share a new, and relatively simple way to get involved with the organization and help spread the word.

    Written by: Sumac Research. December, 2011.

    This article is brought to you by Sumac – helping non-profits do more with less.
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