If your only communication with your donors is solicitation for gifts, then you have some work to do! Your donors need—and want—to hear from you. Enter your highly anticipated, must-read newsletter.
Think of it as a two to six-page opportunity to give your donors an insider’s view of your organization and show that they are part of your team, all while generating unsolicited donations.
To do so, make sure that at the core of every headline, article, and photo you show gratitude, cultivate good feelings, and demonstrate donor impact.
Network for Good really hammers it home: “the key is to make sure your newsletter builds donor loyalty. Loyal donors will give more, stay with you longer, and be your best advocates.”
Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating your newsletter or impact report:
1. Your newsletter is about your donors.
If you’re noticing a pattern, you’re right. We say this a lot. But donor-centric holds true for nearly anything fundraising-related.
When all you do is boast about the great things your organization accomplishes and all the lives you change, the donor doesn’t feel needed. It must be made consistently clear that what you do is only possible because of their generous gift.
And by “make it clear” we mean include this sentiment in every headline, call-out box, and photo caption of your newsletter/impact report, as well as the articles.
If you can’t easily spot grateful verbiage in these places, rewrite them.
2. Content and design must-haves.
- A variety of short articles: Share new developments, services made possible, a story spotlighting a patient, member, or person helped by your organization, even a note from the CEO. Keep it brief, or you’ll lose the reader’s attention. Put the meat of your article into the first sentence or paragraph. And don’t forget to give credit to the donor everywhere.
- A balance of problems solved and problems still existing: Your work as an organization can never appear to be completely resolved, or the donor won’t see the need to give anymore. Show gratitude for what they made possible. Also show urgency for an ongoing or new crisis. Emotion is what moved your donor to give in the first place.
- Specific recognition: Beyond lists of bequests, memorial gifts, or major gift donors, try highlighting individual donors’ accomplishments, and specific needs for the future. One local hospital utilizes a “Wishes Granted/ Wishes Made” section in their newsletter.
- Lots of color photos: Of people. People who helped, people who were helped. People connecting with people, thanks to the donor.
- A carrier envelope with a tagline: Newsletters that come in an outer envelope with a teaser like “Your impact report inside!” have a higher perceived value than a self-mailer.
3. It can be a serious money-maker, without a hard ask.
Meaningful information on their gifts at work is the key to donors’ repeat and increased giving. Fundraising under-performance, therefore, is actually a failure to communicate.
-Penelope Burke, Donor Centered Fundraising
The less you focus on what you want (donations) and the more you focus on what the donor wants (recognition, appreciation), the more money will roll in.
Check out the 180 this nonprofit did by revamping their newsletter. The result of writing shorter, donor-centric articles, reducing the number of pages, adding meaningful photos and more color in general, and mailing the newsletter in an envelope with a tagline? It generated 1,000% more revenue than it had ever raised in a single issue.
You’ve subliminally encouraged the donation by proving results and showing gratitude. Simply including a remit envelope or a regular reply envelope is all you need to do now.
4. Add your newsletter to your annual plan calendar.
This way, you can see windows in your donor communications where a cultivation piece fits best—and how often you should be sending it. We recommend following every appeal with an impact report, or twice a year at minimum.
If your newsletter or impact report isn’t yet a “highly anticipated must-read,” we can help. Our expert copywriting and design team can create an eye-catching and informative newsletter—along with anything else in your annual plan—to keep your donors in the loop, interested, and appreciated!