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Donor Newsletters Should Include These

Have you ever listened to a song lyric and thought you knew the words only to find out later that what you heard and what the singer was actually saying were two very different things.

I’ll never forget when our daughter, Jessie, was small and the song Summer Nights from the movie “Grease” was popular. One of the lines from the song asked the question, “Did he get very far?” Years later, we found out that Jessie actually thought the words were, “did he get berry bar?” Hilarious, but true. Always makes the family laugh to think back to that memory.

That makes me think about what people think of when it’s newsletter time. Naturally, “news” is in play there in one way or another. But only sort of.

A newsletter, after all, should definitely have some news in it. But it shouldn’t have only news.


So, just like a misunderstood lyric from a song, the word “newsletter” may invite a misunderstanding (even if only subliminal), that gets stuck in your head.

The point is that there are so many options for what you include in your donor newsletter. Here are some that you should be taking advantage of:


  • Impact stories – Remind your readers of the story of need, then follow it up with the impact the donor’s support made possible.

  • Images – Your images should tell the story. Nothing in them should distract from the story. Focus on people, animals, faces, eyes.

  • Captions – People are trained to read captions. Make use of them.

  • A story of need – Consider using a story of need which has not yet been met. Then include…

  • A call-to-action – After the story ask the donor to do something like donating or volunteering…make it brief.

  • A Save-the-Date – If you have an upcoming program or event to promote, consider writing a short paragraph asking your donors to save the date.

  • A letter – This should be from the executive director or president and focus on donor accomplishments.

  • Headlines – Make then visually bold, specific, and donor-centered.

  • Reply form and envelope – Make sure you provide an opportunity for your donors to give again.

  • Outer envelope – Make use of this! Newsletters that arrive in outer envelopes almost always raise more money than do self-mailers with no envelopes.

  • Some News – Yes, of course. Do highlight some of your news. Just remember to have that news take the form of the above bullets.

Do you have any misunderstood song lyrics that you’d like to share with us? We’d be glad to share it in our next newsletter?

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