I was reading Robin Cabral’s recent post “Let’s Ban the Title “Newsletter”” and lingered over its final paragraph suggesting alternative titles. While her proposals for Investment Report or Impact Statement may be apt for some nonprofits, I suggest Progress Report for your consideration.
Are You Making A Difference?
How would it change your email prep if you sent a Progress Report as your weekly/monthly/quarterly communication email? Could you regularly pull together stories like:
- Matthews Help Center’s Thanksgiving message about its clients, Phyllis & Brandon?
- The United Way of Central Carolinas’ online gift appeal that appears with Lanitta’s progress story of moving toward a healthier life, thanks to United Way partner Teen Health Connection?
- The Bechtler Museum’s short video on the impact (on patrons and the Bechtler staff) of its No & Low Vision partnership with the Metrolina Association of the Blind?
These stories aren’t just nifty marketing hooks. They remind the reader why she signed-up to hear from you in the first place: she cares about your work in the community. Can you make a more compelling case for support than citing specific stories of the lives your organization has changed? Is there a better reason for a donor to consider giving again to your organization?
As you re-think the content of regular communications, consider too whether it’s time for a design update. Folks on your email list are probably also receiving emails from plenty of for-profit organizations. Which of their design ideas should you test with your readers?
- Single column layout that’s long and easy to scroll;
- Image-rich layout (full-screen and grid-layout) – featuring images that tell the story of your progress. Email platforms like Constant Contact typically offer a robust library of stock images – or you can build an in-house library of images with a professional photographer or your fancy new smartphone;
- Short content that’s 100% readable, even if images are not downloaded automatically (hello, smartphone settings);
- One clear call-to-action for each story or offer – preferably with an impossible-to-miss button – that links back to a form on your website;
- A one-question poll on a topic you can act on: “What do you value most in a volunteering relationship with a nonprofit?” or “What motivated you to give on Giving Tuesday 2018?”
- Personalization – sure, use a first name greeting, but also think about how your relationship with the reader can be built into the content: “Here’s how your gift made the difference in one neighbor’s life.” Or “We haven’t heard from you yet this year, but we’re still working hard on The Cause in our community.”
Your readers and donors are eager to hear about the difference your organization is making in your community. That’s the most likely reason they opted-in to regular communications with you. And it’s the most likely motivator for ongoing engagement with your Cause. In your next Progress Report, reward their interest – and highlight those whose lives are better. And if you need help, email me!