There are so many great blog posts out there on newsletters. A couple of my favorite posts are actually found on the same blog, Support Raising Solutions. One post is by Phil Sineath from 2020 that takes care to emphasize important layout and design notes as well as language and content to include (you should check it out!), and another goodie waaaay back in 2006 from Steve Shadrach that shares what good newsletters and bad newsletters look like. I also love this one from Scott Morton on Two Things Your Giving Partners Want to Know. I’ve also talked about newsletters here on the blog, but it’s been a minute, so I’d like to share a post dedicated to the mammoth standard of Christian worker support raising communication.
First, I’d like to briefly share some things I believe are important NOT to do in a newsletter.
What Not to Do Newsletters:
- Do not write super long paragraphs / pages about what you are learning. It sounds harsh…but short ones = AWESOME. Long ones = NO DICE. And always share what GOD is doing.
- Do not forget your contact information, giving link / giving information, QR code (if you have one) — or any needed additional information. Make sure your contact information is up to date, and also is what you will be using if you are going abroad. Lastly, make sure your contact information is also easy to read (as in not teeny tiny font or in colors hard to read or notice). ***Bonus — QR codes including your Linktree or other online places to share additional information are a nice touch and easy for the reader to use. ***Bonus Bonus — always use your branding and/or your organizations branding.
- Do not add everyone to your newsletter list before asking them personally to be a part of your team. If you do that, the buy in / engagement will likely be low and you may end up with general feelings of non-relationship from your potential partners. Wait until you’ve asked them to be a part of your team, or they have heard from you at a church service and signed up personally for your newsletter (see connect cards).
- Do not use vacation-like photos, keep photos as ministry active as possible.
- Do not make it boring. Consider doing something different (but still accessible) for your newsletter. Video newsletters are awesome (if you do one, don’t make it long). If you go for a video newsletter: (1) know what you are going to say in advance, (2) pick an interesting background that represents what you are doing, (3) don’t make the background of your video a noisy street where hearing the audio is going to be a challenge.
- Do not stick to newsletters as your only form of communication. In this day and age where we have easy global access, merely emailing your team once a quarter with a generalized email newsletter is not going to cut it as your only form of communication. Get beyond the newsletter. I love this quote and I believe it’s so true: “Relational connection is now a STANDARD measurable of worker effectiveness.” – Randy Jumper of First NLR. That being said, here are 10 easy things you can do to stay in touch and show you care in micro ways.
- Do not share every budget detail number. I’d stick to percentages.
- Do not make your newsletter an attachment in an email. NOPE. Use programs like Mailchimp or Constant Contact (just give it a google if you are looking for more options – there are a lot) to make the newsletter more accessible as well as personalized (“Thank you Jenn” vs “Thank you support team”)
- Do not assume your newsletter won’t go into their spam folder. Check with your supporters to make sure they are getting your newsletter, or when you are signing them up for it send them a text and tell them to be on the lookout for it and check their spam folder. Perhaps post in your hidden Facebook group or other communication that you have recently sent one out – and to let you know if they did not receive it.
- Do not write a boring subject line. “Summer Newsletter” is not as effective as “Hey Jenn, how’s your summer going so far?” (yes, you can customize subject lines in many newsletter programs)
Second, a couple of notes on newsletters I think are important to highlight:
- Use your newsletter to communicate your passion for your ministry, not as a woe-as-me-fest. Stay positive, not negative. Every newsletter should convey what God is doing and has done.
- Say thank you a lot and often. Thank your team for being a part of what God is doing. Remind them how thankful you are for them.
- Stay consistent. If you say your going to do a newsletter every other month – stick to it. Newsletters truly don’t have to be long to be effective.
- Do short e-blast newsletters from time to time (beyond your usual newsletter cycle). I love to hear successes from workers just because. Maybe a building finally got built and you share a thank you and a picture, or a person whom you care about and have been walking with came to Christ. Or maybe you reached 75% raised and you’re pumped — so share it briefly with your team. Quick videos of thanks and praise reports are generally a good idea.
- In your newsletter – use “we” language instead of “I” language. Your team is alongside of you and you are doing this work TOGETHER. You could not be doing it without them, and you are in many ways representing the churches and individuals that support the work – by being the boots on the ground they are not / can’t be / don’t know they should be yet – so cut out any “I” language and replace it with inclusive “we” language.
Lastly, below is an example of a good, but regular newsletter (in that it’s not overly fancy or hard to accomplish) that I recently got and thought I would share. *names and faces are blocked out for sensitivity. It’s also a bit chopped up but you get the idea) Here are a few things that I like about it:
- The video! We can’t see the actual here on the blog, so to sum up the content of it: it gives many more details on their ministry but does so quickly – it clocks in at 2:42. In the video the couple shares about one specific ministry win that recently happened. They also share that things are going well in their support raising season.They also announce in the video (while holding their adorable child!) that they will soon be doing a Facebook Campaign coming up to get them from 75% to 100% raised.
- They share with joy and passion!
- It’s a great example of a newsletter while support raising – It isn’t needy, communicates enthusiasm, is informative, and thanks the team.
- They mix up sharing with the video and some brief reading – which is such a nice way to engage with a newsletter.
This list of tips and do not’s is not comprehensive – just some of the things I believe are important to nail. I hope these thoughts on newsletters are helpful! Share your thoughts or tips in the comments! – JF