One of the best ways to keep donors excited about supporting your nonprofit’s cause is to keep them informed about the impact of their gifts through your donor newsletter.
All of our clients that send donor newsletters in addition to other direct mail packages have seen increases in donor retention.
One client even saw donor retention increase 17% in the year after they began mailing the newsletter!!
The donor newsletter isn’t a “hard-ask” fundraising vehicle, and it’s not a “non-ask” package. Instead, you should think of the newsletter as a “soft-ask” package. The stories in the newsletter should make it clear why the donors’ continuing support is important without screaming at them to “send more right now.”
The goals are: 1. To allow donors to get to know your organization better; 2. Become more familiar with the nonprofit’s mission; and 3. Remind donors of why their support for your mission is so important.
Content and Structure
Your donor newsletter should contain stories about what the donor’s money has allowed the nonprofit to accomplish AND stories about challenges your charity faces that the donor can help to overcome. These stories could come from articles on your nonprofit’s website, event summaries, relevant stories in the news, news from your mission field, etc.
The cover story should be a hard-hitting article that draws the reader into the newsletter, not a celebratory piece. Our clients’ results demonstrate this approach works best.
A picture of a hungry child and story about a problem the donor can help overcome should take priority over your nonprofit celebrating an anniversary, or winning an award, or something with a picture of smiling faces. Save those for the interior pages.
Other appropriate “inside baseball” information about your organization and the people involved should also be considered for the donor newsletter. Featuring impactful testimonials from your donors is another great addition.
The newsletter can also contain information from you nonprofit’s Development Department that donors should know about — such as how to sign up for monthly gifts and information on planned giving, corporate gifts, etc. The back cover is an ideal spot for this information.
A letter from the president of your nonprofit or another appropriate signer should accompany the newsletter. This letter should highlight the importance of what is shared in the newsletter and let donors know they can continue to have an impact by sending another generous donation.
When to Send
The donor newsletter should be put on your mail calendar to go out in between your other direct mail fundraising packages. Many nonprofits will send a donor newsletter quarterly, but some send them every month in addition to their monthly direct mail appeals. Cost and performance of the package are the biggest factors in considering how often your nonprofit should send your newsletter.
You should convert your direct mail newsletter to an e-newsletter to reach even more of your nonprofit’s supporters through email, social media, and on your website.
In the past, some organizations have simply posted a PDF on their website for download. That’s not what we’re talking about here. Your e-newsletter should be formatted to be easily read on the web on a dedicated, mobile friendly, landing page.
You can send an email to your list driving supporters to this page. The ask letter from your direct mail newsletter package can be repurposed for this email.
The e-newsletter content on the landing page can be the exact same content as in the direct mail version. Donation buttons should also be incorporated to allow online donations.
If the e-newsletter is sent to donors who are already receiving the direct mail version, it simply reinforces the messages sent and gives them another option on how to read your content. The e-newsletter has the same effect of bonding supporters that occurs with the direct mail newsletter. Keep in mind, it might be more convenient for some donors to read the newsletter online.
Your supporters want to hear from you. So what are you waiting for?