4 reasons your newsletter doesn’t work

Donor newsletters are a powerful tool in fundraising. Done well, they can dramatically boost donor retention — the rate at which donors continue to donate.

And that, as you know, is among the most important jobs we have as fundraisers. The longer a donor stays with you, the more valuable they become.

Many newsletters utterly fail at this job. Because they are about the wrong things. Here’s a helpful post from the Group Thinkers Blog, at How to transform your newsletters to be donor-centric, giving four common newsletter errors that keep them from being effective:

  1. The donor is not the main audience. There are other potential audiences for newsletters: staff, volunteers, customers. But if you try to lump all these groups into one for one newsletter, you will have an ineffective newsletter. Donor newsletters are about showing donors they’re giving accomplishes good things. Other groups have other very different needs.
  2. The content leaves the donor out. A common error for newsletters is to make the assumption that it’s news about the organization — accomplishments, inside, scoops, recognizing staff. Those may be valuable and important things to do. But not in a donor newsletter, where they are just a distraction.
  3. Press releases are reused. Press releases are for the press. Don’t spray them at donors. They’re the wrong information, presented in the wrong way.
  4. The organization is put in the spotlight. A donor newsletter works when it’s about donors and what they’ve helped make possible. The excellence of the organization is really beside that point.

If you want to boost donor retention (and believe me, you do!) a donor newsletter is one of the smartest tools you can have. But it needs to be a donor 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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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.

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