How to Overhaul Your Nonprofit Newsletter

How to Overhaul Your Nonprofit Newsletter

One of the most important emails in a nonprofit marketer’s arsenal is the newsletter. Not only does it keep your donors up to date on the world of good their donations are doing, but it also serves as a relationship builder.

However, a newsletter has one main inherent disadvantage: It can become stale if left alone.

That’s why you must regularly overhaul your nonprofit newsletter to keep it exciting. This also keeps your readers engaged, and is a seed that ensures their participation in your next big fundraising campaign.

If you’ve been running your nonprofit newsletter for a while, you may not know where to start. You might have the same cadence, the same content, and layout. So here are seven kickstarters to get you going on refreshing your nonprofit newsletter.

1. Retire the tired subject line.

One of the first elements of your newsletter readers see is your subject line. Not only is it one of the first elements, but it’s also one of the most important, as it influences readers to open your email—or not. Due to its important role, your subject line should be the first part of your email to get a makeover.

Drop the word “newsletter.”

A mistake many nonprofit marketers make with their newsletter subject line is to include the word “newsletter.” Including “newsletter” was a trend years ago, when newsletters were a novelty and needed to be identified. Today, however, newsletters are extremely common from brands of all shapes and sizes, so the word has lost some of its allure.

Another reason you need to drop the word “newsletter” in your subject line is the fact that most emails are now read on mobile devices. For this reason, every character you use in your subject line counts, as you only have on average 160 characters to convince people to open your nonprofit newsletter.

Make it interesting.

Use your cause to your advantage and create subject lines depicting what’s happening through your organization. A subject line like, “Breaking: Another disaster averted” could work for nonprofits that are in the business of helping the disenfranchised.

Another way of making your subject line interesting is to ask a question. Questions arouse curiosity and, to satisfy their curiosity, your readers will click into your email. For example, check out this newsletter from Charity: Water.

Source: Really Good Emails 

Find ways to add a spark to your subject line to help you drive more engagement.

2. Revamp your design.

More often than not, your regular readers know how your newsletter flows. Switch things up by changing your template and overall newsletter design. When changing your design, remember to:

  • Maintain your branding. Your brand identity needs to stay intact. Otherwise you may confuse your subscribers.
  • Keep it simple. It’s tempting to create the next out-of-this-world newsletter—but don’t overcomplicate things. If your newsletter becomes too busy, it’ll turn off your readers, reducing the chances of them reading your next issue.
  • Make sure your new template is responsive. With more emails being consumed on smartphones than on desktop devices, you need to ensure that your new newsletter design renders well on mobile devices.

Switching your template and giving your newsletter a new look is one of the biggest overhauls you can give your email. Done well, it can even improve engagement.

3. Incorporate video.

Video is fast becoming the most consumed content type on the internet. You can leverage this trend by incorporating it into your nonprofit newsletter.  Here are a few things you need to pull this off:

  • Setting—Your offices and fieldwork are perfect for this.
  • Equipment—Fortunately, making videos is easy and inexpensive, thanks to powerful cameras becoming more affordable and video editing software becoming easier to use.
  • A good email service provider—Embedding a video can be tricky if you don’t have the right tools. A good email platform like EPK should make embedding video as simple as a drag and drop.

Incorporating video is one of the best ways to upgrade your nonprofit newsletter and make it interactive at the same time.

Video in email goes beyond keeping your readers entertained, though. It’s a great way of sharing information with your donors that’s visual, auditory, and informative. Here’s a good example from Be My Eyes.

 Be My Eyes incorporated video in their nonprofit newsletter overhaul.

Source: Really Good Emails

4. Integrate social media.

Social media has become a powerful medium for sharing information and increasing awareness. Leverage its popularity by including social media sharing buttons in your newsletters. These will make it easy for your readers to share your newsletter with their network.

If there’s one thing your nonprofit needs, it’s for people to know the cause you’re championing. Social media plays a big role in getting your message to reach people who aren’t on your email list. Done well, it can also be instrumental in growing your list and boosting your revenue.

5. Switch to storytelling, not just data.

One pitfall that many nonprofit organizations make with their newsletters is to make them about giving their donors data, facts, and figures about what they’ll be doing on the ground. While it’s important to keep your donors updated, the best nonprofit newsletters house the information in a story to make it compelling, like this email from The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Royal Children’s Foundation using storytelling in its nonprofit newsletter.

Storytelling is a powerful way to share information while keeping your audience engaged. Remember, once a donor disengages from one email type, it becomes difficult to get them to read other types. Winning them back is a battle best avoided. And storytelling is one of the best ways to avoid readers disengaging from your emails.

  • Pick an individual you can focus on in each newsletter.
  • Tell their story and infuse it with your facts and figures.
  • Use powerful images to support your story

Your newsletter should become the most-read email in your email marketing toolbox. A newsletter is a versatile email type that you can use to accomplish different marketing goals. So overhaul your nonprofit newsletter by changing the way you present your information and it’ll become your donors’ favorite email.

6. Include a special note from a high-ranking member of staff.

Another simple tweak you can make as you overhaul your nonprofit email newsletter is to include a special note to your donors from a high ranking member of staff. This makes your readers feel honored and appreciated.

The note doesn’t have to take up all the space in your newsletter. It can be something simple just to give your organization a human touch. Make the note more personal by signing it off with a signature.

7. Don’t shoot blindly.

As much as it’s important to overhaul your newsletter, you should make sure that you don’t make your changes blindly. Every change that you make must be based on data. A good way to do this is to send your revamped newsletter to a small portion of your email list and observe how they interact with it. Note the changes in click-through, click-to-open, and conversion rates to see if the new design and copy led to an increase (or decrease) in engagement and donations.

If your revamped email sees an improvement over multiple sends, then go ahead and send it to the rest of your list.

Bonus tip: Ask your supporters what they want to see.

Another way you can make sure you’re on the right track is by sending your readers a survey. Ask them:

  • What they like about your newsletter
  • What they don’t like
  • What they’d like to see

Incorporate this feedback into your newsletter overhaul and you’re bound to create a newsletter that your donors love.

Wrap up

Your newsletter is an important tool when it comes to drumming up support for your cause. Not only is it a great relationship-building tool, but it also serves as an important platform for accountability. All these are needed if you’re to increase your donor retention.

Need more insight into how you can better improve your newsletter? Make sure to read our ultimate guide to email marketing for nonprofits.