Newsletters can be a wonderful communication tool for nonprofits to engage their supporters. According to Nonprofit Tech for Good, 69% of nonprofits worldwide regularly publish an email newsletter.
A great newsletter should keep your supporters informed on current happenings and provide them insights into your impact and overall functioning as an organization.
If your nonprofit is just getting started with an email newsletter, or looking for ways to maximize the impact of your newsletters, keep reading. This article covers best practices when creating your nonprofit newsletters to help you drive more engagement and success at your nonprofit.
How Can a Nonprofit Newsletter Benefit Your Organization?
There is only so much you can fit into your appeal and acknowledgment letters. If you create an annual report, that is a lot of information to digest all at once. A newsletter provides a nice middle-ground for you to keep your supporters engaged and informed while not overwhelming them with information.
Newsletters can also be a great way to keep supporters feeling close to your organization. Getting a monthly hello in their inbox with updates, stories, and impact may be the ticket to maintaining and improving your donor retention.
Ideas to Include in Your Nonprofit Newsletters
Choosing the right content for your nonprofit newsletters is key to their success. A lot of this will depend on your organization and what you do. Once you start creating your newsletter on the regular, keep your sections consistent so your readers know what to expect. Below are some ideas to help you get started.
Content specific to your cause
You can get a lot of content ideas that are specific to your organization and what you do. For example, if you are an animal shelter you might want to highlight animals that are up for adoption or celebrate adoption anniversaries. If you are a children’s art center you could share artwork of the month. A land trust might share a recommended trail or hike of the month. Think about your cause and what will inspire your audience and keep them engaged with your organization.
If you have ongoing campaigns such as capital campaigns, sharing your progress is great content for your newsletters. Detailing the milestones and progress toward campaign goals keeps your supporters connected and informed. Highlighting success stories where the impact of donations is evident can encourage continued support. Try visuals like charts or graphs to help illustrate the progress of these campaigns. DonorSnap Hint: You can use the goals app in DonorSnap to create a bar chart of your campaign progress!
If your nonprofit runs programs or events make sure you highlight them in your newsletters. Include highlights and important details such as time and location in your newsletter, then link to your website for more information and registration. (DonorSnap hint: You can use our Responsive Forms to collect event registrations and track them in your CRM).
Nonprofit newsletters can be a great way to welcome new people to your organization. If you have a volunteer program in place, include opportunities in your newsletter. This can be a great way to draw someone further into your organization. You could also include volunteer spotlights in your newsletter as an opportunity to thank your volunteers.
Legislation or current events related to your cause
It’s important to keep your audience informed about legislation or current events that directly impact your cause. This section of your newsletter can provide insightful commentary on how these developments might affect your organization and the broader community you serve. Encouraging your supporters to stay informed and involved helps to foster a more engaged and proactive community.
Highlight monthly donors
Highlighting donors of the month in your newsletter is a great opportunity to celebrate and thank your donors. Nonprofits may choose to highlight top donors, new donors, or all donors of the month. Whichever way you choose to do it, make a dedicated section of your newsletter that highlights these donors. For an additional touch, you could interview a monthly donor to share reasons they support your organization.
Best Practices For a Nonprofit Newsletter
Be thoughtful about your email subject line
Nonprofits need to be thoughtful about their newsletter subject lines. This is the first determining factor if someone will open your email. Some studies show that including the word “newsletter” in your email subject line may lower open rates. It may be better to consider subject lines like “December Happenings at XYZ Organization” or include a list of what is in the email such as “Puppy Pizza Party, Our Latest Campaign Results, and More”. Learn more about email subject line best practices here.
Make your newsletter easy to read
Newsletters should be easy to read and scannable. If you have longer stories, consider adding those to your website as a blog post. Use an image and a short description in the newsletter and then link to the full article on your website. It is best practice to have a catchy headline, a few-sentence blurb, and an image if possible. Also, highlight the sections of your email with headers so readers can jump to the areas they are most interested in. This is the best way for a reader to scan your newsletter and determine if they want to click to read more.
Be consistent with your sending
Before you start sending your newsletter, decide what is a manageable send schedule for you and your team. If you can commit to one a month that is great! But if you think you don’t have the time, start with a quarterly newsletter. Consistency is key, so if you plan on sending monthly, make sure it is something you can keep up with so your readers know what to expect and when to expect it.
Consider the design/layout
There are many great newsletter templates built into email marketing tools like Constant Contact. They will provide you with a good flow and a good balance of text to images. DonorSnap’s mass email tool also has a newsletter template users can use, or you can customize your own from scratch through the use of tables. It might be helpful to subscribe to a few newsletters of organizations you admire to get a feel for what you like and a design that works for you.
One thing to be aware of is that online design tools like Canva have beautiful newsletter templates. However, these templates are not easily transferred to email. You should never download them as an image such as a PNG and then make the entire image your email. If you are just getting started, working with prebuilt templates in email marketing tools will be your best bet!
Use your newsletter to thank your supporters
Nonprofits should take every opportunity they can to thank their donors. A newsletter is a great tool to deliver a heartfelt thank you to your supporters. You can start with an opening note about some exciting things that happened thanks to their support. You could also include a section to welcome new donors, thank top donors, or highlight all donors for the month. There are no limits to how you can thank your audience and you can get creative when doing it in your newsletters.
Should You Include an Ask in Your Nonprofit Newsletters?
This answer seems to be split on this. Some nonprofits think a newsletter is a great opportunity to include an ask since your audience is warm and engaged, if you don’t ask you won’t receive. However, others feel requests for donations should be saved for appeal-specific emails and letters. Also, including too many CTAs in your newsletter can be confusing, after all, what action do you want your readers to take?
Ultimately it is up to your organization what you feel is best. Either way, a nonprofit newsletter can be a powerful fundraising tool. Whether you use it to thank supporters and keep them engaged, or if you use it as a fundraising tool to get donations.
Newsletters stand as a valuable communication tool for nonprofits to foster engagement and support. Nonprofits should consider the importance of content selection when writing their newsletters. Adding things like event and volunteer highlights, legislative updates, and donor appreciation make great engaging content. In addition, a thoughtful approach to subject lines, readability, consistent sending schedules, and strategic design/layout can improve the overall success of nonprofit newsletters. Whether used to express gratitude, maintain engagement, or solicit donations, nonprofit newsletters can be a low-cost, and simple way to keep supporters engaged.