Sending a weekly or monthly newsletter to your community is a proven way to engage your supporters and keep them up-to-date with what’s going on at your organization. It’s a great vehicle for sharing news stories, reminding your readers about upcoming events, and reporting on your impact.
That’s why many nonprofit professionals are very eager to start sending regular newsletters to their community. Unfortunately, many of them often come to one of two roadblocks at one point or another: 1) they run out of ideas for what to include in the next newsletter and stop sending them as regularly, eventually stopping altogether, or 2) they run out of ideas but desperately try to stick to the regular schedule, resulting in newsletters so bland that their open rates plummet.
If you have ever found yourself here — or if you’re planning to start sending a newsletter and want to make sure it’s a success — this arsenal of foolproof content ideas will help transform your newsletters into updates that your readers will not only open more often, but will actually look forward to reading.
Once you get accustomed to coming up with new content pieces based on these ideas, you’ll become much better at seeing a potential story in just about anything. The key thing to remember is that everything your readers want to read about is already happening within your organization and the community that surrounds it — you just need to know where to look, whom to ask, and how to communicate it in a way that will pique interest.
Now without further ado, here are 24 content ideas for your next newsletter and all the ones after that.
1. Beneficiary Story
Does your nonprofit serve a particular community of people? Does someone benefit from the work you’re doing? Get in touch with these people and ask them if they’d be willing to share their story.
It can be very powerful to hear firsthand accounts from the people whose lives have been made better because of your organization’s existence. It serves as a reminder of why your work is so important, makes members of your community feel good about supporting you, and inspires them to continue or increase their involvement.
2. Donor Story
If your organization is supported by donors, you likely have a few (or many) individuals who strongly believe in the work you’re doing and have been supporting you for a long time. Take this opportunity to shine a spotlight on them.
Ask them why they chose to support you, what it means to them, and what they’re hoping to help achieve with their involvement. Not only is this a great way to show your appreciation and acknowledge their long-standing support, but it will also inspire other people to rise up and join them.
3. Staff Member Spotlight
You likely show a lot of love to your donors, volunteers, and board members, but your staff members are some of the most hard-working and dedicated people in your community. Don’t forget to show them some appreciation by shining a spotlight on what they do for your organization — it’s a great way to build morale among your employees.
For those who read your newsletter, it puts a face and a story to the name they’ve likely exchanged emails with or spoken to on the phone; it shows transparency and authenticity on your end and allows them to build a more personal connection with your organization.
4. Volunteer Spotlight
What about writing a story about one of your volunteers? Maybe you have someone who’s been a volunteer at your organization for years — or decades! They would definitely have an interesting story about how and why they got started and how they’ve seen your nonprofit grow over the years. Or maybe you have a volunteer who has just joined — ask them why they joined and what they’re hoping to get out of this experience. Volunteers always have a very special reason for why they do what they do — all you have to do is ask!
5. Sponsor Spotlight
If you have a corporate sponsor or a business that supports your work with monetary gifts or in-kind donations, your newsletter is a great place to recognize them with a special story. You can interview the CEO or showcase all the ways in which this sponsor has impacted your community. Most companies are looking for exposure for their brand by making charitable contributions, so featuring them in a newsletter is a great way to deliver that.
6. Q&A With a Member/Donor
Publishing a story about a member or a donor can be a special once-in-a-while feature, but you can also showcase your members in a brief but more regular way. What about coming up with a few standard questions and getting a different member to answer them every week?
Having a consistent element across all of your issues will get readers into the habit of anticipating it, making them more likely to open the newsletter week after week to read the next Q&A in the series.
7. Member of the Month
Has a member gone above and beyond with their involvement? Acknowledge them with this special accolade — it will make them feel appreciated and will likely inspire others to strive to receive the same honour in the following months.
8. Timeline of Your Nonprofit’s Milestones
No matter how long your organization has been around, you likely have a pretty interesting story about how you came to be and the milestones you’ve had to hit to be where you are today. While some of your long-standing members may already be familiar with these, it’s not a bad idea to re-ignite the conversation every now and then, especially for the sake of the brand new members.
Maybe you could even throw back to this timeline every time you have a new milestone to add to it — say, for example, your nonprofit was just endorsed by a local celebrity, or you’ve just hit a record number of members or donations.
9. From Our Friends
Is there an organization that does similar or complementary work to yours? Why not partner with them and offer a fresh take on your shared mission to your respective audiences? They could write a guest piece for your newsletter and you could do the same for theirs in exchange.
This will help raise awareness about your cause, introduce more people to your organization and provide your readers with refreshing and informative content.
10. In the Know
Have you heard something in the news recently that affects your organization’s work or is simply relevant to your mission? Maybe it’s a new law that was passed or news about a larger organization making big strides in your sector.
Be sure to share it with your readers – it will help them stay informed, spark conversation, and will make everyone involved a little more equipped to deal with the issues your organization strives to eliminate.
11. This Day in History
Similarly to sharing current news relevant to your organization, why not invite your readers on a trip down memory lane and remind them of important events that happened on the same day, week, or month, but a few (or several) years ago?
Chances are, your mission is related to an issue that many others before your organization had made progress on. Acknowledge their contribution and thank them for taking steps in the right direction, ultimately making your work a little easier.
12. Upcoming Events
Hopefully, this is a section you already include in your newsletter. If your nonprofit hosts frequent events, this is a great way to keep your members in-the-know and remind them about what’s coming up soon.
13. Photo Gallery from Past Events
Once an event has passed, don’t forget to follow up with your community about it. You can share a few highlights and key outcomes and thank the attendees for their participation. Most importantly, offer a preview and a link to the full gallery of photos from the event.
The people who attended will be happy to reminisce about a great time and will eagerly flip through the gallery in hopes of seeing their own photo pop up. The people who didn’t attend will be curious to see what they missed and will be more likely to come to your future events.
14. Photo Essay
Post-event follow-up is not the only time when you can share meaningful photos with your community. What about putting together a photo essay based on a particular theme, such as a year in review, volunteers in action, behind-the-scenes, power of teamwork, etc.
You can also ask your members to submit their own photo essays — they definitely have unique perspectives and experiences. Then, feature the best ones in your newsletter.
15. Report on Your Progress
You are hopefully already reporting on your progress and impact through communication pieces like your annual report and other impact reports, but your newsletter is a great vehicle for sharing quick updates and short summaries of what you can later expand on in a report.
Your community wants to stay up-to-date on what their involvement is helping to make possible, so providing regular updates will ensure that they stay engaged and committed to your cause.
16. Tips & Advice
Your nonprofit’s mission is likely part of solving a larger issue — one that affects your community on a daily basis. Why not offer your readers uplifting tips and advice relevant to your work to help them make small differences in their everyday lives. For example, a nonprofit that advocates for better public education on healthy eating choices includes one meal recipe at the end of each of their newsletters.
It’s an easy and fun way to get your community involved from the comfort of their own homes and keep your mission at the top of their minds.
17. Answering Questions from Members
Members of your community almost definitely have insightful questions and ideas for discussion. Why not open up the floor and let everyone contribute? Chances are, many other members have the same inquiry but don’t have the confidence to step forward and ask.
Encourage them to email their questions or concerns and dedicate a space in each of your newsletters to address one of these questions. This gives you the freedom to screen them to make sure you’re only answering the most relevant and appropriate ones. It’s not a bad idea to make them anonymous too, but you can also leave that up to the people submitting the questions.
18. Note from Leadership
Leaders inspire vision, action, and a sense of community, not only in an organization’s staff members, but in all who are associated with the organization. This is especially true for nonprofits. Your President, Founder, CEO, Director of Development, or any other person in a position of leadership has the power to inspire your community and remind them why they joined in the first place.
Make sure your members hear from this person often and that the message is well crafted and to the point, but is also authentic and down to earth. There’s nothing worse than an address from leadership that uses boilerplate language and feels like it wasn’t written by that person at all.
19. Ideas for Action
Advancing your nonprofit’s mission doesn’t have to stay within the walls of your organization. There are probably small things that members of your community can do in their own lives. You can use your newsletter to remind them that there are things they can do right now to help. For example, if your nonprofit’s mission is to protect the environment, remind your readers of some easy, low-waste swaps they can use in the kitchen that will help reduce their use of plastic.
20. Spread the Word
Similarly to the above point, members of your community can help advance your mission by sharing content from your newsletter with their own circles and social networks.
To encourage this, be sure to offer shareable content that your readers will resonate with. This includes meaningful quotes about your mission, powerful statistics, and infographics. Don’t forget to include a clear call for action, such as a “Share” button, that automatically tags your social media accounts.
21. Food for Thought
Are there issues that you aren’t sure how the world is going to solve? Is there a philosophical, ethical, or moral question that keeps you up at night? Get your members involved by providing this as a prompt and encourage them to think about it or bring it up in conversation with the people around them. It never hurts to keep the conversation going. Plus, you never know — your prompt might just reach someone who has the answer.
22. Wish List
Is your organization looking for any particular in-kind donations? This is the place to ask for them. Just be sure to provide a specific request and a clear set of instructions for how to arrange their delivery.
23. Call for Volunteers
If you’re like most nonprofits, you’re probably always looking for volunteers. Your newsletter is the perfect place to let people know what you’re looking for. Just remember that it’s best to provide specific descriptions of the types of work you need done and the time commitment required. More people will respond if they have a clear sense of whether or not this is something they can commit to.
24. Call for Donations
Lastly, you can always mention your current campaign or ask for donations to a specific fund/program. Make sure your call to action is specific and remember not to include this in your newsletter too often — you don’t want to deter your members from opening your newsletters in the future. At the end of the day, your newsletter is not part of your fundraising plan, its primary purpose is to keep your community engaged and interested in what you’re doing.
So there you have it. Hopefully, this list gives you some ideas about what to include in your newsletters. The most important takeaway is that your audience wants to read stories about how their involvement is helping to advance your mission.
Look within your organization, talk to as many people as you can to get their perspectives, and be on the lookout for what’s going on with nonprofits similar to yours. You’ll be sure to find everything you need to create meaningful and compelling content.
This post was contributed by Wild Apricot.
About the Author: Sayana Izmailova is the Content Marketing Specialist at Wild Apricot, a membership management software. She has worked at a number of nonprofits and uses her experience to help small organizations advance their missions.