The Nonprofit Newsletter: A Newcomer’s Perspective
Yesterday, I hosted the August edition of the Nonprofit Blog Carnival on nonprofit newsletter trends. Here’s another perspective to add to the mix, from the view of two young nonprofit professionals. ~Kivi
Guest Post by Antoinette Siu and Gillian Gurish of Wiser.org.
In my many varied internship experiences over the past year, I have become quite friendly with the non-profit newsletter. Part fundraising tool, part communications strategy, an organization’s newsletter tends to be one of the more contentious and problematic issues staff members will face. Hours, even days of work are put into crafting the perfect monthly/bimonthly/quarterly email all about the latest news in an organization. Countless webinars are held on how to make your newsletter the most engaging, the most accessible, the most fun to read. And it’s all for a 20% opening rate – and that’s on the high side.
I’ll admit, I haven’t been in the biz quite long enough to say anything authoritative about how the non-profit newsletter has evolved – but I can talk about its future. And despite the incredible effort put in and not-so-incredible output, I don’t think the newsletter will be going anywhere anytime soon – nor do I want it to.
I have found that a well-thought-out newsletter can be one of the single-most effective means of expressing the “vibe” of an organization, for reaching out to its constituents, and for keeping them engaged with their mission. That, above all, should be the (or at least a) top priority of any non-profit, because the only way to ensure an organization’s sustainability is to keep its interested parties, well, interested!
The future of the newsletter will lie in its adaptability to our mobile culture – in other words, it must be easily read on your average smartphone. Keep the content relevant, original – and to a bare minimum. Everyone nowadays is on the go, checking their email during their morning commute and lunch breaks, and are generally overwhelmed by their ever-growing inboxes. The more succinct, the better.
Personally, I would like to see the newsletter used as of a fundraising tool. I’m not talking about a bedazzled “Donate” button, either. I see the newsletter as an ideal more way of letting supporters know what the staff is talking about in the office, current and upcoming projects it will take on, and how exactly their support is helping the non-profit towards their mission.
As a supporter of a select few organizations myself, I feel that what really inspires me to continue to give is my personal connections to those organizations, and I think a (well-conceived) newsletter is a fantastic way of maintaining that connection. I perceive fundraising as an opportunity to create meaningful relationships – not just to take someone’s money – and I think if an organization can accept that mindset and express that in their newsletter, their supporters will be dedicated readers and givers.
Antoinette Siu is the Communications Coordinator at Wiser.org. Gillian Gurish is the Grant Writing and Development Intern.