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guide-perfect-volunteer-newsletter

How to Write the Perfect Volunteer Newsletter In 4 Steps

Alvina

Most people keep up with their email through their phones, making emailing a quick and easy way to get in contact with someone, including your nonprofit volunteers. 

Therefore, sending a newsletter can be an excellent tool to touch base with your volunteers, inspire them, and keep them motivated. 

If you want a great way to keep your volunteers informed while providing new opportunities for them, creating a volunteer newsletter can be an important component of your organization’s volunteer management system. 

Here is what you need to know to prepare your very own: 

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Why Send a Newsletter to Your Volunteers?

There are a host of benefits to emailing a newsletter to your volunteers! You can: 

  • Update volunteers on any changes within your organization

  • Taking time to celebrate the positives and provide good news to your volunteers

  • Send reminders of important dates, times, and events

  • Alert volunteers to additional opportunities within your community relating to their interests, such as free CPR training, an exhibit at a local museum, or a book discussion

  • Offer advice and assistance with common issues that volunteers face

  • Introduce new volunteers 

  • Thank your volunteers for their amazing effort and time sacrifice, taking the time to show how much you appreciate each and every one for their involvement

  • Provide project updates and motivate volunteers by informing them of their concrete impact within your programs

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4 Steps to Building the Perfect Volunteer Newsletter

When thinking through your content, it helps to follow a few specific steps.

Step 1: Determine the form

Before you start creating, think through the form of your newsletter. You can certainly mail a paper newsletter out to your members. However, with paper letters, envelopes and postage comes a fairly significant overall expense. Given this, and an added focus on overall sustainability, most organizations choose to email their newsletter.

Step 2: Decide on your objective

Once you are set on what form your newsletter will take, think carefully about your primary objective and set a goal. This goal can (and should) change from newsletter to newsletter, allowing you to focus on all important aspects of volunteering.

guide-perfect-volunteer-newsletter-four-stepsSalma is contemplating what she wants to accomplish with her newsletter.

Some examples of newsletter objectives are to: 

  • Increase their knowledge of your mission and organizational actions regarding it e.g., increase participation rate in volunteer leadership positions by 10%

  • Inspire them to attend specific events or fundraisers, or even just motivate them to keep fighting the good fight e.g., increase event participation to 90% of the maximum number of ticket sales for every event this year

  • Encourage them to participate in more actions or activities in general e.g., goal of increasing mission engagement by 20% 

  • Increase their sense of belonging, helping increase their bond with your nonprofit e.g., increasing volunteer satisfaction rates by 5%

  • Provide them with useful information concerning their activity in the community e.g., each active volunteer can attend an event within 15 miles of their home

Step 3: Build your message

Depending on your overall objectives, you can then decide what type of content you wish to share with them. This can take the form of:

  • Articles you produce or even curated content from other sources

  • Key figures in your organization or activities

  • Portraits of other volunteers, highlighting each person’s story and background to show appreciation and build rapport

  • Reminders about the next events/meetings/actions on your agenda so they know what opportunities for volunteering are available

These are just a few ideas to get you going, you are free to include whatever information you feel is most relevant and beneficial to your readers. 

Make sure that you consider your tone when copywriting your material. While it can be a lot more fun for the reader if you use a little alliteration and make the newsletter fun, it may not be appropriate for your specific audience. 

Nonetheless, if you are able to share funny videos or include interactive materials such as crosswords, go for it! The more fun it is, the more your volunteers will look forward to it. 

Pro Tip: Always verify that your newsletter is mobile-friendly!

Don’t forget volunteer appreciation month! This is a great strategy to retain volunteers and you can really go all-out to show them how much they mean to your organization. If you track volunteer hours, you can also show them exactly how big of an impact they have made.

Pro Tip: When creating your newsletter, take the time to build (or invest in) a reusable template. Templates can be huge time savers when it comes to content creation, and work as a type of springboard to keep your communication, and message, consistent. 

Step 4: Finalize and refine

Do not forget to come up with a catchy and appropriate title for your newsletter! Additionally, to keep your readers engaged, follow best practices such as choosing engaging subject lines, keeping articles short (or including a link to a full article if you want to allow your readers to sate their interest), and include a call to action of some sort to engage them, even if it is just a survey or poll questions. 

Remember that visuals are great tools to improve reader interest. You can also make a point of using clear bright colors to improve the overall appearance and increase its attractiveness. 

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How Often To Send A Volunteer Newsletter

This largely relates to your purpose and content. Choose your frequency based on how often you have events or need to provide crucial information to your readers. Many nonprofits opt for a monthly newsletter, while larger organizations with a wide variety of engagements throughout a month may choose a weekly newsletter. 

guide-perfect-volunteer-newsletter-how-oftenMatt is sending out his first newsletter!

Assuming you have relevant content, a monthly newsletter is a good rule of thumb for keeping members engaged. A monthly cadence allows time to prepare a professional and interesting issue for their perusal, so you are more likely to acquire more clicks and reader engagement that way.

A quick reminder, people often receive large quantities of emails and it is easy to feel inundated with spam. The best way to combat overwhelming your readers is through personalization. The more customized the content, the more likely the reader is to take an interest in what you have to say. 

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How to Build and Maintain Your Mailing List

A great place to start when determining your newsletter recipients is with your volunteer recruitment process. As you bring on additional volunteers, be sure to add the newest members of your volunteer team to your mailing list. 

As your readership grows, maintain or "clean" your list on a regular basis by removing people who are no longer volunteers or those who do not interact with your mailings.

While it may seem odd to reduce your list at first, inactive volunteers are not adding value to your organization. Additionally, your mailing list can be used more effectively when it reflects your active members.

Don’t forget to add an unsubscribe button below your content, usually at the bottom of the page. The law requires every reader to have a chance to remove themselves from your mailing list if that is their desire. 

Pro Tip: Inactive subscribers are not always definitively lost. You can still send them a personalized "last chance" email asking whether they wish to continue receiving your news or not. This will not only help clean your database but also may even "reactivate" some of your former subscribers! 

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Tools To Use When Sending Your Newsletter

First, we strongly suggest that your organization use a dedicated tool when sending out emails to lists of over 30 people. There are many available, such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact, for example. 

guide-perfect-volunteer-newsletter-toolsDavid is loving the tool suggestions!

A great advantage to dedicated technology is that they will offer at least a minimal level of analytics for your analysis, such as the percentage of emails actually delivered, the opening rate, click-through rate, and more. This works well in conjunction with a service such as Google Alerts which can provide you with additional data.

These are incredibly valuable ways to see exactly what your readers enjoy interacting with and what they do not, which can help you adapt your newsletter sending after sending for maximum efficiency. 

Pro Tip: Just as we have a list of valuable tools that can help you distribute your newsletter, it is important to note what not to use. If you use your own Gmail or Outlook account you risk ending up on spam lists, so avoid this method. 

Some solutions are also 100% dedicated to nonprofits such as (drum roll, please), Springly! Operating at the same level as other professional solutions, Springly provides the added benefit of linking your database and emailing solution, allowing you to easily design specific, well-targeted lists.

Also, an all-in-one solution is generally a better idea than using too many tools. Contacts remain up to date and one interface makes the process easier overall. 

Pro Tip: To make sure you choose the best solution for you as well as your organization, try out any prospective options before you definitively adopt one for your nonprofit usage. Most emailing solutions offer a free version or at least a free trial. allowing you to "try before you buy." Make the best of this benefit to ensure you find the best product for your needs while confirming that it is everything you expected it to be.

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Springly is trusted by over 20,000 nonprofits to help them run their organizations on a daily basis. Try it, test it, love it with a 14-day free trial!

 

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