Ways to raise more money with your donor newsletter

Wondering if you’re doing your donor newsletter right?

Here’s some useful information from the BDI Blog: Nonprofit Newsletters 101: Why less is really more.

It outlines a series of changes made to an organization’s donor newsletter:

  1. Limit the number of newsletters — from 5 a year to 4.
  2. Change mailing months. Instead of February, May, July, September, and November, March, June, September, and November.
  3. Reduce the number of pages and colors, from 6-page, 4-color (with a Holiday issue that was 16 pages) to 4-page, 2-color newsletters).

These changes yielded a significant jump in net revenue, partly from lower costs (one fewer issue and simpler specs), but mostly from increases in giving.

My thoughts on these things are only slightly different:

  1. Number of newsletters.I’ve worked with organizations sending anywhere from one per year to 12, with the large majority sending two to four. Different donor files have different “sweet spots” for the “right” number of newsletters. If your newsletter is doing well, add one more to your calendar. If you’re doing poorly, remove one. Repeat every year until you discover your sweet spot.
  2. Mailing months. I suspect this also varies for different organizations.
  3. Pages and colors. My experience accords very much with this recommendation, across many organizations. Testing has usually found 4-color and 2-color to be equally effective. But the number of pages is very important. And surprising. Newsletter longer than four pages are less effective. And the longer they are, the worse it gets. And a 2-page newsletter (that is, front and back of a single sheet) works just as well as (sometimes better than), a 4-pager.

We’ve only touched on the physical aspects of a newsletter here.

Content matters too. But that’s a longer discussion.

Here are things to do for maximum success, and some things not to do.

Or read the book Making Money with Donor Newsletters by Tom Ahern.


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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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