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Nonprofit Education

How to Write an Effective Nonprofit Newsletter

Nonprofit Newsletter Marketing

Despite the proliferation of social media marketing and online advertising networks, the newsletter remains a potent tool in your marketing strategy. This is as true for nonprofit organizations as it is for money-making enterprises. A nonprofit newsletter is a fantastic way to speak directly to your supporters and even reach new people.

There’s a reason why the humble newsletter has been such a valuable advertising tool for decades. For nonprofit organizations, being able to quickly and affordably conduct an email campaign with a newsletter is priceless.

Of course, not all newsletters are created equal and a bad newsletter is as damaging as a good newsletter is rewarding. With that in mind, you want to strive for the best nonprofit newsletters you can create.

A newsletter is predicated on the fact someone has given your organization their email. This is a hugely important step because it shows someone was interested enough to hand over personal information. Always work to repay that trust by compiling the best newsletters that deliver the content your readers expect.

It’s All About the Content

There are many things you can do to make your nonprofit newsletter appeal to readers, such as design, formatting, and imagery. However, none of them is as important as content. Simply put, content is king. After all, it’s the words you put in the newsletter that will ultimately engage readers. All the best nonprofit newsletters ensure their content is stellar above all other considerations.

With that in mind, you must ensure your content is well-written, interesting, engaging, and provides accurate information. That does not mean you need to write in a jazzy manner like you’re working for a teen music website. Instead, deliver content that is in your voice but make it captivating.

Once you’ve locked down your content style, you need to focus your nonprofit newsletter on what content you should deliver. Whether your newsletter is weekly, monthly, or quarterly, what content you include could make or break its success.

While it would be nice to offer some golden rule for deciding which content should be included, there simply isn’t one. What works for one newsletter may not work for the next. However, the best nonprofit newsletters usually have content that details what the organization has achieved and how supporters helped that achievement.

That does not mean the newsletter must always be about your organization. A big portion of your content should be dedicated to offering helpful information, such as tips. For example, if you are a charity focused on accessible water, you can offer tips for readers to make their personal home water use more sustainable.

Remember, most people don’t care that much about you, but they may care about what you do and what you can offer them. Below are some more tips for refining the content on your nonprofit newsletter:

  • Stories work. People love stories because they are engaging. Discuss success stories, including interviews with volunteers, and present a personal side of your organization.
  • Calls to action are good. Keep reading this guide to find out why the best nonprofit newsletters can help your organization. See, that was a call to action, and your newsletter should include them, too.

Have an Efficient Email List

The whole success of your newsletter will depend on the people you are sending it to. Don’t assume all emails you receive will work (read about hard and soft bounces below) and ensure you have permission from every subscriber to send them your newsletter.

A hard bounce is when the newsletter or email you send is permanently rejected. This happens when:

  • The email address is not valid
  • The email address does not exist

A soft bounce happens when an email is valid, but the email still bounced back. This happens because:

  • The email client-server was down (most likely)
  • The message was too large for the inbox
  • The users’ mailbox was full

Soft bounces are manageable but hard bounces should not be ignored. If you receive a hard bounce, you should remove the email address from your email list.

Once you have a list of subscribers who have granted permission and you have sorted between hard and soft bounces, you will have a streamlined and functional email list.

Email List Newsletter

Design is Important

If your content is excellent, you could deliver a block of text on a Word document and readers may be engaged. However, if you want your nonprofit newsletter to excel and stand out from the crowd, you want to present it in the best way possible. Certainly, the best nonprofit newsletter combines compelling content with slick and eye-catching aesthetics.

Looks are important and while loyal readers will stick around for the content, newcomers may need to be enticed visually. Impressions are made in less than a second, which means the visual style of your newsletter can often make or break its chances of success.

Unfortunately, those first impressions can also have a profound impact on your general organization. If a potential reader has a negative first impression of your nonprofit newsletter, they may also think negatively of your overall output. It may be unfair, but it shows why having a visually appealing newsletter is important.

One way to approach newsletter design is to give it the same level of attention you would for your website. This could mean creating a design that looks like your site, but it could just mean using the same level of detail and care you put into your website.

Good design also leads to more movement from your newsletter. For example, readers are more likely to share your newsletter, or answer calls of action such as “Sign-Up Here” or “Donate”. Luckily, some design standard practices are used by the best nonprofit newsletters, including:

Fonts – Choosing a font may seem trivial, but it is important. Firstly, you need the font to read well and be understandable. So, plenty of Arial and Calibri and less of Forte or other fancy fonts. Once you choose the typeface you want, stick to it across your newsletter and all subsequent publications. Don’t get creative and use one font for one section and a second for another. Using bolds and italics is fine but stick to the chosen typeface.

Formatting – White space is your friend because it lets your text breath. Use white space between lines of text, images, buttons, and words. Don’t clutter your nonprofit newsletter with blocks of text because doing so often makes readers feel frustrated during the reading experience.

Using Colors – You’re not trying to make a Jackson Pollock painting, so be muted with your colors. A good place to start is by limiting yourself to three colors. Don’t worry, even with three hues, you can get creative and develop a beautiful newsletter. The background should be light, and you should only use bolder colors to complement your design.

Images are Important – Images are a fantastic way to efficiently add some design to your nonprofit newsletter without having to be creative with colors. Furthermore, good images will attract readers to your content and help them stick around to read your newsletter and act on calls to action.

For more help with your nonprofit’s business and marketing strategies, contact CharityNet today.

CharityNet USA is committed and fully operational during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please read our updates and order status here.
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