Another of my “must read” nonprofit bloggers is Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog, by Kivi Leroux Miller. Recently, she hosted the August Nonprofit Blog Carnival where the discussion was centered around the usefulness of hard copy and e-newsletters.
There were many good posts filled with different perspectives on how to improve newsletters as well as discussions about where they fit in with all of our other channels, especially social media.
In a related post, Six Ways Social Media Has Affected Nonprofit Newsletters, one of the comments asked in part: “Do we (meaning nonprofits) still need hard copy newsletters?”
It’s Not About You
My response: It’s not the nonprofit’s needs that are important. It’s the needs of those people you want engaging with you. Do your donors, volunteers, and clients want hard copy newsletters? If you’re a non-profit with a local audience with relatively low email usage, then the answer might be yes.
If you’re an NGO helping a third-world client base and you have Millennial and Gen X donors all over the first world, then you probably don’t need a hard-copy newsletter.
For some, if you properly segment your readers, you may find receptive audiences for each.
If You Write It, Will They Come?
It’s not what you need. It’s what your readers want. Survey your audience, ask them what their preferences are. (VolunteerMatch, one of the nonprofits featured in the nonprofit carnival did just that.)
You need to find out what kind of content they want to read (or scan). Ignore what you learned five, ten, or fifteen years ago at college and find out what they want to read now. Your professors never heard of user-generated content when you were in college. The question you want to ask is, “What kind of content must we produce that will compel our audience to read and then engage with us? For most of us, it will be stories by and about people who have helped our organizations make a difference (volunteers and donors) or who have been helped by our organizations (clients).
Think Like Them, Don’t Think Like Us
Our donors, volunteers, and clients are more important than our organizations. They are our organizations’ lifeblood. Their needs trump the needs of our organizations. Always endeavor to put yourself in their shoes and ask what they want or need. We must continually identify their needs, wants, and motivations and determine how and where they intertwine with our missions. That’s called “Outside-In Thinking,” and you can more about that in my post, When Recruiting Volunteers, Think “Outside-In.
Finding that common ground and building upon it helps us create stronger volunteer and donor bases which make it easier for us to reach our business goals and ultimately fulfill our missions.