LEADERSHIP ACADEMY BOARD MEMBERS
Does your Nonprofit organization send a regular newsletter?
A newsletter is one of the most important communication tools you have, and it probably won’t cost you a penny. With a newsletter, you show up in the inboxes of your audience and members, prompting them to make an easy connection with you regularly.
Open rates for newsletters sent from Nonprofits average 25%. That means if you send a newsletter to 100 people, you could get around 25 people to open it and read it. That doesn’t sound great, but it’s much higher than the 6% open rate that corporate emails get! That low percentage never stops them from sending emails and newsletters all the time!
How often should you send a newsletter? Mailchimp, one of the free newsletter companies (if you have under 2,000 subscribers) says that people are more inclined to open your emails if you send four per month rather than one per month. However, you have to find what makes the most sense for your organization. For example, FHCCA only sends a newsletter on the first day of every month. Occasionally, we’ll send an additional one mid-month if we have something important and timely to announce. This works for the way our organization operates and with the expectations of our membership. We average a 57.6% open rate, proving that this frequency works for our audience.
If you are going to take the time to put together a newsletter, it is important that you respect the time and attention your audience is going to give to them. These tips will help you create something they appreciate and enjoy:
Create content that your audience will appreciate. Help them get to know your organization better, give them a glimpse behind the scenes, share important news, give them links to relevant content, etc. Keep your paragraphs short and double and triple check for spelling (use Grammarly.com to help).
Some newsletters get away with not having any photos, but people are far more attracted to relevant photos. Your organization’s logo should always appear at the very top. Share photos of your volunteers, your leadership, your events. If you need to use stock photos, check out websites such as Pixabay, Pexels, and Unsplash for free images.
No silly cat memes…unless your organization’s name is Fearless Kitty! However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t inject humor…or even a meme. Just make sure that it is relevant to your organization and your audience.
People love videos. You can create your own videos on a smartphone, or make them professional quality if you have the means. You can even share relevant (that is the keyword) videos from YouTube. Don’t waste their time with videos that are not important to your message.
While you have your audience’s attention, be sure to give them ample opportunities to click over to your website. Share an important page, like how they can join, and provide a link. Create a blog post that you can talk about in your newsletter and share the link. You get the idea.
Many people look for these in your newsletter. They want to follow you on Facebook or Instagram. This gives you a chance to reach them as they scroll every day.
Only say what needs to be said in your newsletter. People have shorter attention spans than ever. If you have a blog post, write two sentences about it in your newsletter to pique their interest, then provide a link back to it if they want to read more. If you have numerous topics to cover, be sure to create a solid headline for each topic, or number them. Make it as easy as possible for people to read.
There are numerous newsletter platforms out there, so it’s important to do your homework and comparison shop. Constant Contact is a great resource, but there is a monthly membership fee. Mailchimp and others like it are free if you have less than 2,000 subscribers.
At this time, FHCCA uses Mailchimp. I’ll be honest and say that we tolerate Mailchimp simply because it is free. It has some frustrating limitations that probably exist so that you’ll decide to upgrade for a fee. It can also land in a lot of Junk boxes when sent to subscribers and there is nothing you can do about that. However, it meets our needs right now and allows us to communicate for free. Do your research to find what fits your needs.