Keys to creating a failing nonprofit newsletter

If you produce a newsletter for your nonprofit, I urge you to read The 8 Most Common Mistakes Made in Nonprofit Newsletters by Sandy Rees. (If you don’t produce a newsletter, read the article, then start producing a newsletter.

Here are the eight mistakes Sandy points out:


  1. Not donor focused.
  2. Long letter from the Executive Director on the front page.
  3. Text is too small or hard to read.
  4. Absent or poorly written headlines.
  5. Poorly written text.
  6. Too much text.
  7. Not enough or bad photos.
  8. No contact information for the organization.

I can vouch for each of these. And I’ll add some more that can really kill your response:


  • Send your newsletter as a self-mailer instead of in an envelope. That can knock down response by about half.
  • Strictly follow the rules of objective journalism.
  • Make sure your goal is to “educate” donors, rather than thank them.


Comments

10 responses to “Keys to creating a failing nonprofit newsletter”

  1. Hi Jeff. Thanks for the post – very informative.
    I’d love it, though, if you could elaborate on your first point:
    “Send your newsletter as a self-mailer instead of in an envelope. That can knock down response by about half.”
    I’m confused! A self-mailer is a donor turn-off? Would love it if you could share some details on that one.

  2. Hi Jeff. Thanks for the post – very informative.
    I’d love it, though, if you could elaborate on your first point:
    “Send your newsletter as a self-mailer instead of in an envelope. That can knock down response by about half.”
    I’m confused! A self-mailer is a donor turn-off? Would love it if you could share some details on that one.

  3. Newsletters sent as self-mailers significantly underperform those sent in envelopes in head-to-head tests. Repeatedly. The decision to use self-mailer is a decision to have much lower response.

  4. Newsletters sent as self-mailers significantly underperform those sent in envelopes in head-to-head tests. Repeatedly. The decision to use self-mailer is a decision to have much lower response.

  5. I, too, am puzzled at hearing this stat for the first time. But they say an envelope is more personal, so the recipient will commit more attention to it. More info here: http://www.directmail.com/resources/2.aspx though they don’t mention non-profits specifically.

  6. I, too, am puzzled at hearing this stat for the first time. But they say an envelope is more personal, so the recipient will commit more attention to it. More info here: http://www.directmail.com/resources/2.aspx though they don’t mention non-profits specifically.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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