Research shows that donors like to receive newsletters — the problem is that they are not always read. Why? Many newsletters are simply not interesting. We can't bore our readers into action, but some newsletters sure do try. Make your newsletter an engaging and valuable communications tool by eliminating the following five things.
1. A letter from the executive director on the front page
Donors don’t want to read this. What they do want to read is a story about a particular person whose life is being changed by your organization. Sorry to all the E.D.s out there, but you and your agency are not the stars, the people you serve are. If you absolutely have to put a letter in there, don't put it on the front page and have the letter feature a client story
2. Stories about employees
Donors don't care that Janine in accounting got a promotion or that the staff had a potluck holiday party. This type of content should be in an employee newsletter. Stick to stories that will inform and engage donors, helping them feel connected to those you serve.
3. Long, wordy articles
We are no longer readers. We are skimmers and browsers. Most newsletters are read in a few minutes standing at the kitchen counter or over the recycling bin. You can't expect readers to wade though long articles, so keep them short and break them up with subheads and photos.
4. Lots of detail about programs
Resist the urge to write about what you do. I know! It's hard! But donors don't care about the "how" of your agency. They care about the results, why your organization matters, what you have accomplished and what you hope to accomplish (with their support, of course).
5. Lots of we, our, my or I
Your newsletter needs to pass the "you" test. It needs to be friendly, conversational, warm and approachable. Circle every "you" that appears, in any form. You should see "you" in headlines, subheads, captions, lead paragraphs and any offers or calls to action.