It’s important for your non-profit organization to have its own means of communicating with the world.  Corresponding with members, supporters, sponsors and everyone else is important for growth, balance and goals.  The ideal medium to use, of course is the newsletter.  The newsletter is your means for explaining why you exist, who you are and what you need.  As a non-profit agency, by publishing your own newsletter, you have total control on content, regularity and circulation.

Every non-profit agency that has been around for a while should have first hand experience on every phase of the newsletter publishing process.  There are budgets to consider, a competent staff to hire, a reasonable agenda to follow, writing articles, designing the layout, photographs and graphic choices, reproduction methods and distribution options.  And if you plan to create a PDF version, place the newsletter on your website or incorporate it in email, there’s more time and resources to use.

By publishing your own newsletter, your organization avoids using mass media and the mass media regulations, limitations and fees that come with it.  Most non-profits have modest budgets to work with and only dedicate one person as newsletter chief, cook, and bottle washer.  The writer, often times is a director, because he or she places importance on publishing an organizational newsletter.  The writer needs to have the time to create articles and possess the skill needed to produce a finish product.  Smaller organizations without an in-house writer may turn to a freelance writer or public relations agency.

Your newsletter, whoever writes it, needs a thorough understanding of your organization’s missions, goals and programs while maintaining some editorial sense and is articulate and knowledgeable with your agency events and news.  The writer, after completion of the newsletter will generally send it out to a list of addresses or email addresses or both.   Considering email list distribution only for the rest of this discussion; your agency newsletter list should be the most valuable item in it’s possession or the most worthless taxing bit of information you have.

For your list to be valuable, it must:

  1. Be Accurate
  2. Up to Date
  3. Segmented by interest
  4. Segmented by members
  5. Opt –in
  6. Complete

How do you complete your list?  Do you include everyone on your list(s)? The entire member organization? Is there an absolute number?  Should you include board members, past and present, committee members, past committee members, all donors, friends of the agency?  The compilation can be overwhelming.  Consider what you’re using your newsletter for; a way to keep people involved and interested in your organization.   Wouldn’t that include everyone?  Keep the news coming on schedule, share information, report events, and elicit contributions.

If the list is valuable and the content worth reading, the next step is email management, distribution and costs.  So the question, after considering all the work involved, is email “marketing” for your non-profit agency cost effective?  Besides the obvious saving from the conventional printed newsletter: paper, ink, stamps, printing costs, driving to the post office, etc.  email distribution requires software, computers, bandwidth, a writer, someone to create the newsletter, manage the addresses, address sending issues and other “hidden costs” if running this in-house  like software updates, hard drive maintenance, electricity, spam and virus filters and don’t forget an affordable IT person.

The good news is you do not have to run your own email server in-house.  You can eliminate those upfront costs and headaches by using an Email Service Provider (ESP) at fee far less than paper, ink and stamps, computers and software.  A good ESP will manage all the email marketing, newsletters and discussions you need using one email solution for your entire organization.  List management will be less time consuming, easy to administer and more organized.  You’ll save on time, resources, cost and paperwork.  A company like Dundee Internet offers non-profit list hosting, with a 30 day free trial with unlimited support and free newsletter skin template matching (to your website) to get you started.

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