Liven up Your Dullsville Donor Newsletter
Fundraisers often dilute the power of their donor newsletters by mixing up internal communication goals with loyalty-building goals. Jeff Brooks, creative director at full-service direct response agency Merkle/Domain, offers organizations a few pointers to help them get back on the right editorial path with his “orange paper,” Loyalty-Building Newsletters: Four Principles for Making Your Newsletters a Powerful Fundraising Tool:
Focus on the Donor. “Your donor wants to hear one thing from you: that her giving matters,” Brooks explains. For this reason, do not bog down your newsletters with personal information about staff members, board members, corporate donors, etc.
Show Your Donor That You Need Her. While this vehicle should not be a thinly veiled appeal for a donation, do not avoid asking for financial support if there is a pressing need. “From a donor’s point of view, evidence that you need her tells her that she’s significant,” Brooks emphasizes.
Tell ‘em a Story. The best-read items in most magazines are not news items, but case studies. Why? Because people love stories. You infuse your appeals with stories to better connect with donors, and your newsletter should follow suit. In particular, strive for stories that have a “dark side,” as Brooks says. By starting off with a challenge, then discussing the solution your organization developed and, finally, moving to the happy outcome, you actually emphasize the positive aspects of supporting a cause.
Catchy Headlines Only. The headline is what draws the reader into the story, so yours have to be compelling. Employ strong verbs, underscore human relationships and leverage multiple elements (kickers and subheads) to give headlines more selling power. “If your headlines make you cringe, that’s a sign that they’re strong,” says Brooks.