How to focus your nonprofit newsletter

What is your newsletter about?

Almost all nonprofit newsletters are about the wrong thing: They’re about the organization that produces the newsletter.

That might seem to be right.

But if you want your newsletter to foster your relationships with donors, raise funds, and overall increase donor retention, making it about your organization is exactly wrong. A complete waste of your time and money.

I’ve seen internally focused newsletters that are all about the insider news, and some of them are very good. It makes sense for some very large and sprawling organizations to support staff knowledge and connection.

But for the other 99% of organizations, your newsletter is sent to donors with the intent of building the donor relationship.

If that’s you, you need to be asking the question asked in the Better Fundraising Blog: Why are you writing about the organization?

The most effective newsletters are written to show donors what their gift accomplished. And the best way to do that is through stories about beneficiaries.

So stop talking about the organization and its programs. Start talking about the donor and telling her stories about lives that have been changed because of her kindness. Then she’ll think it was a great idea to give to the organization and be more likely to give again.

This can be a real challenge. It requires you to see through others’ eyes — what they know, what they understand, what they care about.

Which is difficult. But it’s the same thing required of any healthy human relationship.


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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.