So how do you pick which one is right for you?
For Mark and Joanne, who ran a kids’ summer camp, it was a big decision.
Since they had limited time for promotion, they wanted to make sure they’d be able to choose a channel that would be as effective as possible for them.
But they also wanted to make sure it would allow them to share the stories of all the kids who participated in their camp — something they weren’t sure social media would do to the extent they wanted.
After lots of research and brainstorming what the best way to keep clients, donors, and other potential supporters informed would be, they decided on a nonprofit newsletter.
So, why did they decide on an email newsletter — and how can you get it to work for you?
Why a Nonprofit Newsletter Might be the Right Promotional Channel For You
When you keep your subscribers in the loop, it keeps your mission in the front of their mind. By providing timely content and organizational updates, a newsletter is a perfect way to keep your organization’s followers updated about all the great work you’re doing.
Your newsletter is central to giving your subscribers timely updates about how you’re developing your mission and operations — updates that can help them feel more involved and engaged with everything you’re doing.
In this post, I’ll cover a few characteristics of a nonprofit newsletter, as well as 5 great examples to get you inspired.
The Four Characteristics Every Nonprofit Newsletter Needs
From your newsletter’s content to how often it’s sent, every aspect of a nonprofit newsletter can be customized to best appeal to your readers.
To help you get started, or just to give you a quick refresher, I went through some of the most successful nonprofit newsletters and compiled a list of some of their most successful characteristics.
1. They Stay Top of Mind… Without Spamming
Once you’ve built your email list, it’s your job, as the one producing the newsletter, to make sure you’re sharing information with your loyal subscribers consistently. Depending on how involved they are with your organization, you can decide how often you’ll be sending out your newsletter.
Each email reminds your subscribers about your organization and brings your mission to the front of their minds, if only for a few seconds when they see the email in their inbox before even clicking into it. Newsletters allow for strong user engagement and put your organization in control of the way your messaging is communicated — that’s why Mark and Joanne thought it would be the right choice for them.
Once you claim a constant presence in the inboxes of your subscribers on a recurring basis, you’ll be able to move forward with maximizing the potential of your newsletter. They’ll come to expect information from your organization to populate at certain times and — if you’re doing it right — even be excited to receive your consistent updates!
2. They Include This Kind of Information
An email newsletter is a great tool to use to pass along content and information related to their mission. Whether this content comes organically from the organization’s website itself or is a recent news blurb relating to your nonprofit’s field, your newsletter presents an opportunity for subscribers to stay up to date and engaged.
Other benefits of providing content through a nonprofit newsletter include driving traffic to your nonprofit’s website and donation pages. You can provide links to informational pages that help your subscribers learn more about your brand as well.
This aspect of a nonprofit newsletter has a ton of versatility and can be customized based on an overarching theme for a particular newsletter edition. You can use content to highlight any particular project you’re working on or to give a more general update — whatever fits best with your current plans.
3. They Do This For Their Subscribers
Your readers want to hear about how your efforts are creating the impact you want them to and evolving in the process – and a newsletter is the perfect way to do that!
Because your subscribers already engaged with you by subscribing to your newsletter, you’ll have a readership that’s already somewhat interested in learning about updates and new events or campaigns.
While your newsletter should encourage your nonprofit’s overarching purpose and possibly encourage donations, you should be sure to mix in opportunities for subscribers to be informed about other types of company updates as well to make sure they are familiarized with what you are actually working on.
Keeping your subscribers in the loop about what your nonprofit has been up to increases their awareness of your mission, and strengthens the identity of your organization in the minds of your readers. It also maintains a steady stream of opportunities for them to think about getting further involved with your nonprofit.
4. They Focus On This Kind of Topic
No one likes getting emails that are all about selling them something.
Joanna and Mark discovered this to their dismay. After sending one email that was all about promoting their summer program, they realized their unsubscribe rate was higher than ever before.
So, they started including a question at the end of their emails to get readers to respond, as well as featuring the stories of kids who had attended their camp rather than telling it all through their perspective — and they saw their unsubscribe rate drop yet again.
You know just how essential building relationships with potential donors is to your mission — and a newsletter can help with that too. Leveraging personal, direct copywriting is not only beneficial for gaining interest in your newsletter, but is almost essential for your nonprofit to acquire the money and support it needs to thrive.
5 Nonprofit Newsletters to Keep You Inspired
While there are many examples of amazing email newsletters, here are a few from the nonprofit sphere to get you motivated as you start creating yours!
NPR’s newsletter features highlighted stories and articles that might be of interest to the recipient. With featured images that catch the eye, and a wide variety of stories that the reader can check out, this newsletter takes the approach of reminding readers what they can provide in the form of recent stories and diversity of topics.
How You Can Do The Same: Share content from your nonprofit’s blog and other relevant stories to get your subscribers clicking back to your website. This way, they can build a deeper connection with your content.
2. American Red Cross
This American Red Cross newsletter includes featured images from a recent event and an update on organizational news. It highlights ways that subscribers were able to get engaged with the Red Cross, as well as making great use of the panel in the middle of the page promoting the Red Cross Emergency App. The layout of the newsletter is easy to follow as well, as the side panel outlines what the newsletter contains and where the reader can find what they’re looking for.
How You Can Do The Same: Include ways your supporters have gotten involved in the past. Who knows — you might motivate future volunteers or donors to do the same!
3. Habitat for Humanity
This Habitat for Humanity newsletter from the organization’s St. Louis chapter checks off all of the boxes for what makes a successful nonprofit newsletter. It has links to all of the organization’s social media accounts at the top of the newsletter to encourage further engagement. It lists upcoming events, recent organization updates, and offers multiple ways that recipients can be further involved with the organization. It also makes great use of space on the side panel to thank donors and provide a testimonial. A simple design helps make all of this information readable and easily processed.
How You Can Do The Same: Don’t worry about including a fancy design in your newsletter. It can be minimal as long as the content is all valuable and relevant to your subscribers.
4. New York Public Library
The New York Public Library’s newsletter offers further engagement with using the library itself. Titled, “NYPL Top Picks,” the newsletter includes updates on recent news from the library system, book recommendations, and events. The book recommendation content drives further reader engagement by encouraging library members to come back to the library and check out some of the recommended reads.
How You Can Do The Same: Include content that will drive readers to re-engage with your program. For example, Mark and Joanna could include a section on “Easy Kids’ Games For the Season” in every newsletter, which could then encourage parents to join their activities.
5. Sierra Club
The Sierra Club newsletter starts off with a message from the Chair, adding a personal touch to a newsletter from a large organization. It reviews all of the work that the nonprofit has accomplished in the past year and sets goals to accomplish in the next year.
This newsletter does a good job of making the reader feel like they are an essential part of the organization’s mission and achievements, as well as keeping the reader up to date on what the nonprofit is prioritizing and where their donations are going.
How You Can Do The Same: Include a brief section within your newsletter that covers what goals you’ve accomplished and what you’re working on. This doesn’t have to come up every time, but including it occasionally will remind readers of the many things you’re doing to help your community.
Ready to get sending?
As a nonprofit, you’re looking for ways to get frequent updates and promotions related to your organization out to as many people as possible — without having to spend too much time on it.
That’s why an email newsletter can be a great way to drive further engagement with your organization. Through it, you can communicate recent news updates, remind readers about the purpose your organization serves, and encourage further engagement.
Author: Rob Browne
Rob is a Content Marketing Specialist at G2 writing about all things marketing. Originally from New Jersey, he previously worked at an NYC-based business travel startup.