The worst nonprofit newsletter headline ever written

I just saw the worst nonprofit newsletter headline ever written:

Partnering with the Southern Philippines

Unfortunately, this headline isn’t the lone occupant of the “worst ever written” slot. It’s tied for worst with about a zillion other nonprofit newsletter headlines.

Here’s what’s wrong with the headline — and with the many others just like it:


  • No news. It’s not about something specific happening. The action here is a vague, ongoing process. Headlines that draw readers into their stories are packed with action — news.
  • No people. Millions of interesting human beings live in the Southern Philippines. The action people want to read about is done by and with them — the children, mothers, priests, lumberjacks, or whoever — not with the region.
  • Weak, jargony verb. It’s pretty cool that we can easily turn nouns into verbs in English. But not this one. “To partner” is one of those verbs that conceals and blandifies action. Headlines live on powerful, specific verbs.
  • -ing verb. Even a strong verb loses a lot of its force when you put -ing on it. It turns it from an action into a process. Not interesting.

The purpose of nonprofit newsletters is to be read. If it isn’t read, it’s a waste of money. The purpose of headlines is to get people to read the material under them. Boring, no-news, abstract, unintelligible headlines don’t do that.


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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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About the blogger

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.