You’re doing everything right, but donors aren’t responding! [Newsletter Tuesday]

Newsletter Tuesdays: A series about doing more with your donor newsletter.

NewsletterTuesday2

You’ve been paying attention. Your donor newsletter is really focused on donors, making clear the impact their giving has.

It’s not a brag-fest about your organization and staff, but squarely aimed at the impact donors make by giving.

You’re telling human stories about transformation, not shoveling statistics at your donors.

Your writing is clear, readable, and free from jargon. You really work to make everything relevant and interesting to your donors.

But response is low.

How can that be? Isn’t there a “formula” that makes donor newsletters “work”?

Here’s one possible reason: The stories you tell have little tension, no surprise, and lack a story arc.

You may be getting it half-right for a donor newsletter — the half that clearly connects the story to the donor and their giving. But the other half isn’t quite there: The storytelling part.

Aipuppies

Here’s what I mean. See if this looks familiar:

  • Headline: Your generous giving saved 3 puppies
  • Lead: Thanks to your kindness, three puppies found wandering along the freeway in a snowstorm have found forever homes with loving families.
  • The bulk of the article is about the wonderful things that happened when the puppies were brought into the shelter and then adopted. There are a few details about what happened to the puppies before the rescue.
  • Conclusion: Your kindness touches the lives of so many puppies and other companion animals. In the last month alone, more than 100 dogs, cats, and other species were rescued from suffering or death. Thank you for caring about our furry friends!

Okay, I just made this up, but it looks like a good story, clearly connected to the donor. But there’s a problem: It’s not very interesting.

Because there’s no story arc, no progress from before to after.

It’s not quite a story.

The story-ness of a story is the part that’s easy to forget when you’re working to connect donors to outcomes. You know the purpose of a donor newsletter is to let donors know that their giving accomplishes what you said it would accomplish.

So you think the story is “here’s something you helped make possible.”

But by itself, that’s not a story. At least, not the kind that will entice a reader to drop every other thing they’re doing to read.

To get their attention, you need to tell a story.

With a beginning, middle, and end. A before and an after.

With an arc that goes from a start to a crisis, to a solution.

If your story is a notice that the donor’s giving did something good, you’ve done half of the job. The other half is to capture their attention, their time, their fascination, and their heart by telling an incredible story.

More Newsletter Tuesday posts


Comments

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

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.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

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.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

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.

Recent Comments

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.