There are dozens of articles out there on how to create non-profit newsletters. This includes what medium to use (print versus digital), what to write, how to format it and how often to send it. These are all the pragmatic and tactical aspect of producing a non-profit newsletter. It’s one thing to improve these aspects of your newsletter. But if there’s isn’t a solid foundation to underline your newsletter, these improvements quickly become pointless.
What’s missing from all of the conversation about non-profit newsletters is a non-obvious discussion that requires us to zoom out from the pragmatic details.
What is the purpose of a non-profit newsletter?
Better yet, what is the purpose of your organization’s newsletter?
The way I see it, the purpose of any non-profit newsletter is to be a distribution channel and the function of a distribution channel is to share content, messages, stories, and so on.
Most distribution channels have an audience. The content you distribute helps you build relationships with that audience, which could include subscribers and readers, as well as donors. This content can engage, inspire, and activate people to a new level in the relationship. Moving audience members through an engagement cycle is something the vast majority of us are trying to do and it’s a worthwhile endeavor.
But here’s the thing, in order for content to have a return on investment for your organization (and to move people through the cycle of engagement), you have to strategically use it. There must be a point to all of the content you produce because if you think about, subscribers and readers of a newsletter have no inherent value to your organization. It’s donors that are of value to your organization.
So who should your newsletter content really be for? What is the point of all the content you’re producing? You have to be clear about this. In my opinion, it’s most valuable to focus on producing a newsletter for donors.
And that brings us back to thinking about the purpose of your newsletter. It’s a fundraising and relationship building tool.
Your organization should not be sending out a newsletter just because it’s what you think you should be doing. If you’re going to put time and resources into a communications channel, there needs to be a clear purpose and objective.
As I said earlier, subscribers and readers have little inherent value. They become valuable when they take action. That could be making a donation, signing a petition, volunteering, and so on. So your newsletter should be able moving those relationships forward and into something of value for your non-profit. Not sure if your newsletter is relationship building? Read this.
But I want to be clear, that’s not to say that your newsletter shouldn’t provide value to your readers. It absolutely should. Your job is to strike a balance between value for your readers and value for your organization.
Here’s my question for you – is your newsletter currently serving your organization in this way? Do you need to take a step back and reevaluate the purpose for your newsletter?
It’s easy to get off track and lose sight of our strategic goals. Make it a habit of reconnecting with them regularly to ensure that you are getting the right return on investment on your work.
What is the purpose of your non-profit's newsletter? If it's not this, you may be missing out.