If you are in charge of creating or editing a monthly or quarterly newsletter, you know there are some months when it can be challenging to come up with interesting topics and original content. Although you’re steadily plugging along doing good work, you don’t want to simply share the same types of updates and information in every newsletter or your readers may stop paying attention.
Here are 4 ideas for creating engaging content to help fill out your organization’s newsletter when you are short on news, events and updates.
- Share human interest stories that show your impact on the community. Can you put a human face on your efforts? Your readers love seeing how their support translates into real life impact for actual people. Get a quote from someone who has benefitted from the work that your organization does. Take some photos (while getting the permission of the subjects of course).
If you’ve created a program or some community asset that people are using and benefitting from, highlight one person or family who has had their life transformed in some way by the service you have provided. Statistics are wonderful, but real human stories are what create buy-in and renewed commitment from your donors and supporters.
- Fill out your newsletter with some photos. People are naturally drawn to photos and graphics. If you are not in the habit of taking photos and sharing them in your newsletter, start doing it now. These days almost everyone has a smart phone that is capable of taking excellent quality photos, so enlist someone at your organization to take photos of staff, volunteers, donors, events and more.
If your newsletter is via email and you don’t know how to incorporate images, you can use a service like Mailchimp or Constant Contact that makes it easy to incorporate images and format a professional-looking email newsletter. If you have statistics to share with your readers on the number of people served, fundraising efforts, etc., consider creating an infographic, chart or graph rather than simply listing the results in text form. Free programs like Canva.com have templates that make it easy to swap out photos and text to create a quick and easy infographic that you can use to dress up your newsletter.
- Highlight donors, volunteers and staff. Periodically you can choose someone who has contributed in some way to your organization, snap their photo and highlight their efforts and significance in helping you achieve your mission. Get a quote from them about why they choose to lend their assistance and what they have gotten from the experience.
- Share events and stories from other related organizations. It may seem counterintuitive to share stories about your “competition,” but if there are other organizations who are doing work that is similar or complementary to yours and would also appeal to your constituents, sharing their events and accomplishments can help grow your own support. Contact the other organization to let them know that you are interested in what they are doing and would like to share it with your own subscribers. They will undoubtedly be happy to have the free promotion and may do the same for you down the road.
However, don’t try to make it a quid pro quo situation, i.e. asking them directly to share your news because you shared theirs. If you develop a contact at that organization, simply send them an occasional message letting them know about an upcoming event or significant news. Let them choose whether or not to share it with their members, and hopefully they will.
Other tips to help make your newsletter readable and engaging:
- If you are doing an email newsletter through a service like Constant Contact or Mailchimp, you can keep track of what outbound links people click on and see what generates the most interest. Do more of that kind of story!
- Break up the sections of your newsletter with headlines and create a menu of links at the top of the email so that subscribers can go straight to the story that is of greatest interest to them. Hard copy newsletters should also have a menu or legend with a list of the articles with page numbers.
- Particularly for online content, keep paragraphs short and concise.
- Bulleted and numbered lists improve readability.
- Put the most interesting and unique stories first, saving drier topics like meeting notes or general business for the end.
Visit our blog post Winning the Inbox Wars for more tips and ideas on crafting compelling emails that will get read!