The newsletter of a nonprofit organization is an important publication and can see returns.
But there are two distinct audiences to be addressed.
Donors want to see information about fundraising events and activities in the nonprofit’s newsletter.
Those involved directly in the programs that are served by those donors want to see information about their efforts to show money is well spent – and why more is needed.
Few organizations realize that communications cannot serve both masters.
What I mean is this: Newsletters must be geared either to a fundraising audience or to the programming audience (e.g. those being served by the programs).
All communication should be strategic to ensure that dollars spent – writing, photography, production and postage – provide some type of return.
Having a goal for each communication is key, yet few organizations actually understand this concept.
Newsletters take a tremendous amount of time to produce and are often sent out to everyone in the organization’s database. The fundraising staff is then shocked when the newsletter produces precious little income.
Those served by the programs wade through the publication looking for something relevant to them.
The majority of publications are frustratingly useless — however, they make the staff feel productive for having created them.
Once more, each communication should have a clearly defined purpose with text supporting the goal, and a call to action. After reading the communication, no doubt should be left in the reader’s mind as to the intent and purpose.
Examples for a fundraising newsletter:
Articles feature donors who support/underwrite programming. These feature stories should speak to the specific program, include a photo of the donor with a student from the program, and heartwarming examples of success. They should also challenge the reader to join with the donor and support the effort.
Examples for a programming newsletter:
Articles feature the program and its recipients with explanations of what it is, the community it serves, how it serves those involved, and the desired outcomes/goals. It closes with contact information on how to be involved in the programs.
Remember this: The materials colleges use to recruit students are not the same as those used to recruit donors.
Know your audiences, and understand what it takes to get them to respond.
Communicating for fundraising purposes requires focused strategy.