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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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Mission possible? ... a worried fundraiser inquires.
Tom Ahern

March, 2015

This organization uses its newsletter to keep clients and supporters informed. Can the same newsletter double for donors as well?

Hi, Kivi and Tom,
I know you are the experts on how to approach this, so I hope you don't mind me asking.
I am new at an organization that has never really done a donor newsletter, though they do mail out a print newsletter which is meant to let clients and supporters know about the services which are available.

The organization considers it more of an education piece.
I am torn because, though of course we need to introduce a donor newsletter, I am wondering if there is a place for an educational newsletter, too?
Your thoughts or examples would be welcome. A big part of my new job is Stewardship, and I am excited to help them grow this part of their work because I know they have enormous untapped potential.
Thank you!



Dear Lorraine....

Tom here.

You build a publication that is welcome in my postbox backwards ... from me, the target audience.

That's the first law of the messaging jungle: I will only pay attention to what interests me.

And what interests me most is me.

If you want current and prospective donors to pay attention, then your newsletter will seek to emotionally gratify them.

Bring them joy and need. That always works.


To remain relevant to your supporters, the question a newsletter must ask of all proposed content: "Why would a donor care about this? Is there an angle?"

It's interesting that your organization "thinks of the newsletter as more of an education piece."

That theory needs testing. How do they know that anyone's getting educated, after all?

What are these "they" currently measuring? Or are they flying blind? Is there a "customer satisfaction" survey mailed? Or are "they" merely indulging a garden-variety "opinion fest"?

It doesn't get more real than this

You're sending out a newsletter about Alzheimer's services.

Why would a donor readership, which is a general readership, care about those services?

They may well! Don't get me wrong.

Alzheimer's is a problem that will impact far more families than global warming. Why it is not at the top of every developed nation's research budget, I have no clue. Seems like public negligence to me.

Still, how do you really know whether readers care about your existing newsletter? Where's the feedback channel?

Are there offers? Is there an "If you need help in your family?" column written by an expert?

You can also do an effective job "educating" if you include tightly written "Did you know?" items, a couple per issue maybe.

They're read for fun ... yet teach deep at the same time.

Hope that helps!



Dear Lorraine....

Kivi here.

I agree with Tom -- if you are doing a donor newsletter, then do a newsletter for/about donors. :)

Nonprofits can certainly produce more "educational" newsletters -- but then you should see it as more of a service that you are providing.

This is best done by nonprofits that are encouraging certain kinds of lifestyles (how to live a more enviro friendly life) or that are naturally full of advice for their clienteles (tips for new parents, or how to prevent certain diseases with diet, or maybe in your case, info/tips for caregivers?)

Very helpful, functional information that people can use in their own daily lives.

In this case the newsletter is really a form of content marketing that builds trust with your community and positions you as a helpful expert.

Worthwhile goals for many orgs, but not the same as fundraising. 

So, you have to pick what the goal really is. 

Next question: can you do both in the same newsletter?

Not really -- the 50-50 thing doesn't seem to work very well.

Think more 80-20, with 80% working toward your goal (either donor news or newsletter as service), filling in the 20% with the other. 

Hope that helps!



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