Newsletters are a commonly accepted way for nonprofit organizations to communicate essential information with key audiences, including donors and prospective donors. I find well designed, four-page newsletters printed on attractive paper (pleasant to the touch), serve several purposes.
First, newsletters convey an overall professional image of your organization with key constituents. Second, being only four pages long, newsletters do not burden readers with too much information, and instead allow recipients to glean the salient aspects of your organization’s work, accomplishments, and goals.
In fact, I have had some of the most influential donors in Texas report they like this specific format because it is easy to carry while traveling to business meetings and while taking trips (along with other documents); it is an attractive document one can share with colleagues; and it provides a “snapshot” of where an organization stands to date with its development activities.
My personal goal is to increase the efficiency of my work, and the cost-savings of nonprofits with which I work. Toward this end, I have greatly enjoyed and appreciated the availability of attractive newsletter templates from Microsoft Office.
Microsoft Office makes available a wide array of professional templates for newsletters, letterhead, invitations, brochures, invoices (and other business forms), PowerPoint presentations, and Excel spreadsheets, free of charge. In addition, template packages are available that are a bit more extensive, for a modest fee.
Here is the link that provides an impressive array of Microsoft Office newsletter templates.
Today’s challenging economic times mean the budgets of nonprofit (and for-profit) organizations are under more scrutiny than ever before. By making use of easily-accessible tools like Microsoft Office templates, cost-savings result.
Yes, like anything else, one must take time to learn how to use these pre-set formats, but once you accomplish that objective, I think you will become “hooked.”
Each downloadable template comes with Microsoft Publisher embedded within it (for sole use with the template you have selected). I have found that when it comes time for printing, even the most basic print shop can take your Microsoft Office document and transform it into a beautiful, professional newsletter ready for mailing to your most important constituents. One can also easily convert the completed files into pdf format, and post on them online.
Here are two examples of nonprofit newsletters I have created with the help of Microsoft Office templates:
In the case of the first, I was also able to convert the original template into three tandem documents: 1) a two-fold brochure for general information and solicitation purposes; 2) a two-page special project overview for a separate mailing; and 3) a pledge card. By using the same template, the color schemes, fonts, and general layouts remained the same. This ultimately created an attractive package of campaign documentation for the nonprofit.
I continue to be surprised at how few nonprofit organizations are aware of this tremendous, free resource provided by Microsoft Office. Check it out, and don’t be afraid to download and “play” with these attractive templates. Last but not least, hearty thanks to Microsoft for providing these attractive preset formats, and helping “small shops” look like “big shops”!
~ I write my own newsletters, case statements and grant proposals, simultaneously while developing the graphic “identity” of each. But that comes from years of experience and two university degrees! If you need assistance with writing specifically, there are several experts who can help you produce better copy for nonprofit fundraising purposes.
One is Tom Ahern. Tom is especially adept at nonprofit newsletter writing. You might want to subscribe to his e-newsletter for regular updates and fresh ideas. I came across a five minute video discussion by Tom, “How One Simple Change Caused 1,000% Growth in Donations.” It is well worth viewing.
~ Pamela Grow has written a helpful article, “Nonprofit Newsletters – Are You Making These Mistakes?”
~ From Have Fun, Do Good comes, “10 Nonprofit E-newsletter Resources.”
~ Kivi Leroux Miller has written a helpful article, “Give Your Newsletters a Reason to Live” (September, 2012). “Newsletters can consume huge amounts of time and money, and if you don’t know why you are producing the thing — really know why — then you are probably throwing that time and money into a bottomless pit.”
~ Check out Kivi Leroux Miller‘s free e-course, “15 Days to More Engaging, Inspiring E-newsletters.” The “on demand” course is described on Kivi’s helpful website, Nonprofit Marketing Guide.
~ Katya Andresen of Network For Good has posted a helpful article, “7 Ways to Get Better Response Rates to Your eNewsletter” (April 10, 2012). “Want to increase donations through your email outreach? You need to give people a compelling reason to open your message and then act. Fortunately there are several things you can easily do to improve your odds.”
~ Another terrific communications expert is Nancy Schwartz. I enjoyed hearing Nancy speak during a past Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC). Nancy also has an e-newsletter for which you can sign-up on her website.
~ A friend of mine who works with Constant Contact referred me to an article by David Wilson, The Age (Australia), in the small business section, “Get Your Newsletter Read: 10 Hot Tips.” It provides excellent advice.