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10 Commandments of Nonprofit Newsletters

Nonprofit newsletters are a great tool to use to keep you in touch with your donors and prospects. You can capitalize on this opportunity further when you follow fundamental principles – these 10 newsletter commandments.

1. Thou shalt have one.

10 Commandments of Newsletters from Nonprofit Copywriter

Nonprofit newsletters are a primary means of communicating with your donor base and reinforce the wonderful work you’re doing. Over time, they also provide a way to document your organization’s history.

2. Thou shalt know thy audience.

Understand their hot buttons and why they have partnered with you in the first place. Speak to those issues.

3. Thou shalt not bore your readers.

Provide fascinating content and newsworthy updates, not boring in-house strategy summaries. Include engaging stories about your beneficiaries, how-to’s, event information, data, profiles, and anecdotes about those you serve. Make sure your content has substance that supports your mission. Ads and promotion are secondary (and most of the time, unnecessary and inappropriate).

4. Thou shalt use the right tone.

Nonprofit newsletters are a means to keep partners and prospects up-to-date about what’s going on in the family. They’re not a soap box. The tone is always reader-centered, designed to inspire and motivate. No scolding, preaching, threatening, begging, or posturing allowed.

5. Thou shalt honor the Law of Quality.

Well-constructed articles, eye-catching layout, and a professional presentation show the reader you are credible. If you don’t have time or staff to put together a high quality publication, then outsource it.

6. Thou shalt use plain language.

Keep verbiage to a minimum. Avoid niche lingo. Vary sentence length. Where possible, use lists and bullets for skimmers.

7. Thou shalt use attractive visuals.

Photos, action shots, graphs, charts, color and easy-to-read fonts make your newsletter user- friendly.

8. Thou shalt stick to a mailing schedule.

By sending regularly intervals (monthly or weekly for example) you demonstrate reliability and earn your reader’s respect.

9. Thou shalt include a response device.

Provide one in every newsletter, whether it’s a buck slip in a print newsletter or a Donate link in your e-news. Give your reader a chance to interact with you, offering him opportunities to give, pray, volunteer, engage through social media, or otherwise participate. (Extra tip: a separate buck slip and return envelope will net better response than a tear-out coupon in a print newsletter.)

10. Thou shalt offer thy newsletter online.

Send your newsletter as an ezine to readers who have email access, and archive back issues on your website as an informational resource.


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