Donor Newsletters

Tips for donor newsletters from Alan Sharpe. I have a client whose direct mail fundraising program is in trouble. I think you can profit from his predicament. I know he is going to.

The development officers at his non-profit organization are doing plenty of things right. They attract new supporters by mailing donor acquisition packages a couple of times a year. They solicit gifts from their existing donors many times a year. They thank donors promptly for every gift received. They recover lapsed donors using direct mail. And they watch their numbers.

Donor Newsletters – How To Boost Your Results

Yet the return on investment for their best renewal mailing each year has been declining steadily, from 1,500% five years ago to only 700% today. How come?

Because they are trying to raise money only by asking for it. With the exception of their gift acknowledgement letters, every letter they mail to donors asks for a donation. And that’s why their direct mail program is floundering.

You need givers, not just gifts
The key to success in direct mail fundraising is not donations, but donors. Your primary goal is not raising revenue, but building relationships. Your aim with everything you mail is first to keep your donors, and then to keep them giving.

The most effective way for my client to keep his direct mail income steady or growing is to use direct mail as a donor retention tool and not just as a donation acquisition tool. He should create and publish a donor newsletter, and mail it as often as he mails his appeal letters. If his donors receive four asks a year, they should receive four newsletters a year.

These newsletters can be print or email. One page or many pages. Black and white or full-color. But whatever format they take, they should inform and inspire donors.

Get by giving donors what they want
My client’s donors, like yours, give to make a difference. They want their financial contributions to right a wrong, change attitudes, eliminate a problem that keeps them awake nights, and help the downtrodden and underprivileged.

When donors pick up a newsletter, they are looking for stories that demonstrate that their gift is accomplishing their goals. That’s why my client needs to write newsletter stories that show donations at work. He needs to show the link–explicitly or implicitly–between the donor support he received and the good he is accomplishing because of it.

Many donors will not give another donation until they know their last one is hard at work. That’s why donor newsletters are so vital. They get by giving.

My client no longer expects to raise direct mail donations simply by asking for them. His attention is now off the donations and on his donors, where it always belongs.

About the Author

Alan Sharpe is a professional fundraising letter writer, instructor, coach, author and newsletter publisher who helps non-profit organizations to raise funds, build relationships and retain loyal donors using cost-effective, compelling, creative fundraising letters. Sign up for free weekly tips like this at