Wednesday, 5 May 2010

How to write effective e-newsletters that get read

Well, here are a few tips for creating newsletters that will attract and retain your charity’s supporters.

Ideas about creating great content

Offer news items that are interesting to your charity’s donors. Note here that I said news items that are interesting to donors not to you! What you find fascinating is not likely what donors might find fascinating. So, the first step is to make sure that you are listening to your donors and you are discovering what they find interesting.

For example, donors to a charity helping teachers in Africa might be interested to know what happened at the training days for local teachers in Sierra Leone. How many teachers attended? What did they learn? How are they planning to use that knowledge in their schools etc? – This is the project you told donors about a couple of months ago and asked for their support – this a news item you might want to include in your e-newsletter to offer feedback on how this project impacted lives.

You might also want to share some news or statistics that highlight the types of problems you are trying to tackle, stories and comments from the people you are helping, a photo album featuring one of your projects etc.

Do some research, see how other charities in your field are sharing news and relating to donors online and work out how you can do the same. Bookmark or monitor RSS feeds from useful websites to receive information to help you craft better e-newsletters.

Use case studies. Most of your charity’s supporters don’t really understand the complex problems or issues you might be trying to tackle. What’s more they are not likely to give money to an abstract cause. So, if you want more people to engage with your cause use real life stories about how your charity is helping people.

Build e-newsletters around one of your real life stories and make sure you let your field workers or beneficiaries tell the story in their own words. You can position the story in such a way that your donors are included too – by reminding them that they helped make the change happen through their gifts and prayers.

Offer some spiritual insights or advice to your readers. A Christian charity can use an e-newsletter to bless its supporters by offering them some spiritual encouragement in the form of short Bible based reflections. These could be spiritual lessons that the leaders of the charity or missionaries have learnt during field trips, answers to prayers and much more.

Charities that are working in areas of education or healthcare too can offer their e-newsletter readers and supporters some specific advice or, ideas about issues that might concern them.

Make e-newsletters interactive. There is nothing more boring than being bombarded with information and not given a chance to participate. The growth of social media has broken the power of monologue and has given readers a voice. So rather than shunning this trend you should use it for your charity’s benefit.

You can do this by including a quick poll relating to a specific topic that your charity is addressing or to get donor’s opinions on specific initiatives. Many people love to have their voice heard, even if only through a quick vote, and they love to hear how others view an issue.

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