Ten Tips for a Better Newsletter

If your Mission doesn’t already send out a newsletter, now is the time to start. The investment is minimal when balanced against the satisfaction donors gain through stories of how their gifts have helped. Newsletters form an integral part of your marketing campaign, helping you build credibility and cultivate a personal relationship with your donors.

Though it will yield response from your donors, the purpose of the newsletter should not be confused with that of your regular appeal letters. Rather than asking directly for a contribution, your newsletter should relay information to your donors in a more relaxed, informal manner. Following are ten tips to keep in mind.

  1. Make it a quick read. Your newsletter should be long enough to tell your story, but short enough to be read in five minutes or less.

  2. Keep the format simple. It should be inexpensive to print and easy to mail; ideal is an 11’ x 17 sheet folded to 8-1/2’ x 11". Serif type is best, large enough for the elderly to read.

  3. Follow a theme. Build each issue around a theme: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s. Easter, Mother’s Day, Summer, Rehabilitation, Family Ministry, Special Programs, Volunteers.

  4. Use a tried-and-true layout.

    Page 1: Theme story with large photo showing rmnistry
    Page 2: Signed letter from the Mission Director
    Page 3: Theme article with personal testimony and photos:coupon if self-mailer
    Page 4: Upcoming events: including photos; address panel if self-mailer

  5. Play up the photos. Use large photos that show action and faces close up —people being ministered to. fed. and sheltered. Avoid posed shots and dull photos of buildings. If possible. hire a professional photographer.

  6. Brighten it with color. Print in two colors: black and a second color, which can vary each issue. (Avoid green. which connotes money, for the second color.) Don’t use the second color for photos or you may have "blue faces"!

  7. Don’t bore your reader. Avoid articles on staff news — donors want to hear about people you’re helping. Don’t list memorial gifts; add an insert instead.

  8. Build in a response device.  Always include a coupon or remit slip, coded for tracking purposes. and postage-paid BRE. Include your mailing address on the coupon, and ask the donor for their complete name and address.

  9. Be organized. Assign a staff person to coordinate the newsletter and develop a production schedule, beginning design and layout 90 days prior to printing. Make sure your newsletter mail date complements your appeal letter mail dates.

  10. Mail broadly and often. To get the highest response, mail your newsletter to all Active and Current Inactive Donors. A frequency of once a month is ideal —some donors give only to appeals, some only to newsletters.

You don’t have to be a pro journalist to turn out a newsletter that gets results! Try these tips and watch your donors respond.

Reprinted from MISSION OUTREACH produced by Grizzard.