Should you get rid of your nonprofit newsletter? NO!

Is it time to give up on your newsletter? The Big Duck suggests so at It might be time to kill your newsletter:

It’s time to say goodbye to the newsletter as we know it. Chances are your investment in it is simply just not worth the time and energy as it used to be.

If by “newsletter” you mean email newsletter, I might agree. I’ve not yet seen an email newsletter I’d call a success. They rarely get decent engagement of any kind — open rates, click-throughs, or response. There are many other things you can do in email that work better in those ways.

But if “newsletter” means print newsletter, don’t stop producing it.

Don’t.

Really, don’t do that!

If your print newsletter seems to be failing, fix it, don’t kill it.

Make sure it’s a donor-focused newsletter, and make sure you’re doing it right. But don’t cancel it. It’s far too important.

Read Tom Ahern’s book, Making Money with Donor Newsletters and get to work making your newsletter do its job, which is showing donors that their giving isn’t a waste of money, but accomplishes exactly what they hoped it would.

(And really, I wouldn’t give up on an e-newsletter just yet. I think someone is going to figure it out if we keep trying!)

A good newsletter that’s about the donor (and not a brag-sheet) can raise money. But more important, it can lift donor retention by showing them that their giving matters!


Comments

6 responses to “Should you get rid of your nonprofit newsletter? NO!”

  1. Thanks for referencing Big Duck’s blog post. My goal in crafting this piece was to encourage nonprofit communicators to challenge their assumptions and ensure we’re all thinking critically about how we’re investing our time and resources. Sure, print and digital newsletters still can offer great value for some organizations but I don’t think they’re a one-size-fits-all approach, especially for digital. Thanks for helping to elevate the conversation.

  2. Thanks for referencing Big Duck’s blog post. My goal in crafting this piece was to encourage nonprofit communicators to challenge their assumptions and ensure we’re all thinking critically about how we’re investing our time and resources. Sure, print and digital newsletters still can offer great value for some organizations but I don’t think they’re a one-size-fits-all approach, especially for digital. Thanks for helping to elevate the conversation.

  3. Hi Jeff,
    I agree with you on many fronts. Gone are the days of slapping together a newsletter or sending content just to mark it off a to-do list. With major shifts in the way society digests information, we must also adapt our communication methods. Any organization looking to communicate with their audience should ask these two questions:
    1. Are you saving your audience time?
    2. Are you providing value for them?
    What nonprofit’s should keep in mind is that email marketing and digital newsletters should NOT be left behind. In fact, email marketing has the highest return on investment of any marketing channel at 3800%. Yes, that you read that right. Experian reports that for every $1 you spend on email marketing you get $44.25 back. Even better, email marketing drives more conversions than any other marketing channel, including search and social media.
    As you mentioned, nonprofit’s shouldn’t, “give up on an e-newsletter just yet,” and what I think you’ll be even more excited about is that, “someone [HAS FINALLY] figured it out!”
    As the Lead, Nonprofit Engagement Specialist at Cerkl, we’re moving the needle on innovative communication technology with our 900+ partners who are seeing major increases in event attendance, annual giving, circulation and overall engagement. Cerkl’s average open rate is 41.2%. To put that into perspective, the national average open rate for nonprofit emails and newsletters sits at a sad 16.9%. Can you imagine engaging 3x more members and donors?
    Besides Cerkl, below are a few ways you can make sure you’re meeting your audience where they are by saving them time and providing them with value:
    PERSONALIZE THEIR EXPERIENCE:
    In this day and age we expect everything to be customized for us, but why shouldn’t we? We live in a world where Netflix and Pandora can serve up content that is relevant and personalized to us, so why shouldn’t we expect email to have personalized content? Studies prove, “that marketers who are using personalization to make their emails more relevant are not only getting a 2.5x higher click-through rate, but they are also generating 6x more in donations and sales from their campaigns,” it’s a no brainer!
    MAKE IT RELEVANT:
    With the “number of new or unread messages now 300% higher than it was just 4 years ago,” Nielsen Norman Group’s research has proven that we truly are all battling for the same inbox real estate. Adobe sites that, 39% of millennials wish to see fewer emails and 32% want to see fewer repetitive emails. Cutting the clutter, and sending only pertinent content, cultivates a trusting relationship with your donors.
    GIVE THEM THE CONTROL:
    Allowing your audience to be in control makes them feel like you are listening to them. People are 50% more likely to engage with any type of digital content when it is being sent to them on the schedule that they have chosen.
    THINK MOBILE:
    68% of all email is now opened on a mobile device. That percentage is even higher for millennials. What does that mean for you? Your email has to be responsive (meaning it needs to look good across all devices (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry), and platforms (desktop, tablet and mobile). Not an easy feat but, worth the investment now knowing, that’s where your audience lives.
    OTHER STATS SURROUNDING EMAIL MARKETING:
    – Individualizing emails can increase open rates by 244% and click through rates by 161%. (Salsa)
    – 75% of Gmail’s 900M users access their accounts via mobile devices. (TechCrunch)
    – Marketers who leverage automation have seen conversion rates as high as 50%. (eMarketer)
    – Over 75% of email revenue is generated by personalized campaigns, rather than one-size-fits-all campaigns. (DMA)
    – Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new audience members than Facebook or Twitter. (McKinsey)
    – 90% of email gets delivered to the intended recipient’s inbox, whereas only 2% of your Facebook fans see your posts in their News Feed. (Forrester Research)
    – You are 6x more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than you are from a tweet. (Campaign Monitor)
    – Email is responsible for about one third of nonprofit’s’ online fundraising revenue. (Salsa)
    Email marketing is as relevant as ever, thanks to new tools like Cerkl’s automated personalization technology. With personalization, you and your marketing team are now able to effectively and efficiently engage your audience and increase your ROI – just DON’T get rid of that newsletter!

  4. Hi Jeff,
    I agree with you on many fronts. Gone are the days of slapping together a newsletter or sending content just to mark it off a to-do list. With major shifts in the way society digests information, we must also adapt our communication methods. Any organization looking to communicate with their audience should ask these two questions:
    1. Are you saving your audience time?
    2. Are you providing value for them?
    What nonprofit’s should keep in mind is that email marketing and digital newsletters should NOT be left behind. In fact, email marketing has the highest return on investment of any marketing channel at 3800%. Yes, that you read that right. Experian reports that for every $1 you spend on email marketing you get $44.25 back. Even better, email marketing drives more conversions than any other marketing channel, including search and social media.
    As you mentioned, nonprofit’s shouldn’t, “give up on an e-newsletter just yet,” and what I think you’ll be even more excited about is that, “someone [HAS FINALLY] figured it out!”
    As the Lead, Nonprofit Engagement Specialist at Cerkl, we’re moving the needle on innovative communication technology with our 900+ partners who are seeing major increases in event attendance, annual giving, circulation and overall engagement. Cerkl’s average open rate is 41.2%. To put that into perspective, the national average open rate for nonprofit emails and newsletters sits at a sad 16.9%. Can you imagine engaging 3x more members and donors?
    Besides Cerkl, below are a few ways you can make sure you’re meeting your audience where they are by saving them time and providing them with value:
    PERSONALIZE THEIR EXPERIENCE:
    In this day and age we expect everything to be customized for us, but why shouldn’t we? We live in a world where Netflix and Pandora can serve up content that is relevant and personalized to us, so why shouldn’t we expect email to have personalized content? Studies prove, “that marketers who are using personalization to make their emails more relevant are not only getting a 2.5x higher click-through rate, but they are also generating 6x more in donations and sales from their campaigns,” it’s a no brainer!
    MAKE IT RELEVANT:
    With the “number of new or unread messages now 300% higher than it was just 4 years ago,” Nielsen Norman Group’s research has proven that we truly are all battling for the same inbox real estate. Adobe sites that, 39% of millennials wish to see fewer emails and 32% want to see fewer repetitive emails. Cutting the clutter, and sending only pertinent content, cultivates a trusting relationship with your donors.
    GIVE THEM THE CONTROL:
    Allowing your audience to be in control makes them feel like you are listening to them. People are 50% more likely to engage with any type of digital content when it is being sent to them on the schedule that they have chosen.
    THINK MOBILE:
    68% of all email is now opened on a mobile device. That percentage is even higher for millennials. What does that mean for you? Your email has to be responsive (meaning it needs to look good across all devices (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry), and platforms (desktop, tablet and mobile). Not an easy feat but, worth the investment now knowing, that’s where your audience lives.
    OTHER STATS SURROUNDING EMAIL MARKETING:
    – Individualizing emails can increase open rates by 244% and click through rates by 161%. (Salsa)
    – 75% of Gmail’s 900M users access their accounts via mobile devices. (TechCrunch)
    – Marketers who leverage automation have seen conversion rates as high as 50%. (eMarketer)
    – Over 75% of email revenue is generated by personalized campaigns, rather than one-size-fits-all campaigns. (DMA)
    – Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new audience members than Facebook or Twitter. (McKinsey)
    – 90% of email gets delivered to the intended recipient’s inbox, whereas only 2% of your Facebook fans see your posts in their News Feed. (Forrester Research)
    – You are 6x more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than you are from a tweet. (Campaign Monitor)
    – Email is responsible for about one third of nonprofit’s’ online fundraising revenue. (Salsa)
    Email marketing is as relevant as ever, thanks to new tools like Cerkl’s automated personalization technology. With personalization, you and your marketing team are now able to effectively and efficiently engage your audience and increase your ROI – just DON’T get rid of that newsletter!

  5. Hi – I agree that email comms or newsletters can be powerful if the content is valuable or interesting for the donor. We just did a study and found that by sending weekly donor emails with bite sized pieces of content, nonprofits were able to massively extend their reach.
    One of the findings that we found surprising is that new donors opened and clicked the emails every single week. I think email can be the most impactful communication channel as long as you’re sending content the supporter wants.
    I’d love to get your thoughts on our findings!
    http://nonprofits.goodunited.org/blog/kill-your-monthly-newsletter

  6. Hi – I agree that email comms or newsletters can be powerful if the content is valuable or interesting for the donor. We just did a study and found that by sending weekly donor emails with bite sized pieces of content, nonprofits were able to massively extend their reach.
    One of the findings that we found surprising is that new donors opened and clicked the emails every single week. I think email can be the most impactful communication channel as long as you’re sending content the supporter wants.
    I’d love to get your thoughts on our findings!
    http://nonprofits.goodunited.org/blog/kill-your-monthly-newsletter

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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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