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How would you like to stir up your donors, to the extent that they will not only give to your organization, but also fundraise for you, grow beards, run marathons and even swim naked in San Francisco Bay. These are some of the things that Charity Water have been able to do by coming up with great content for their email campaigns.


In September 2012, Charity Water undertook an email campaign that saw them surpass their fundraising goal of $1.7 million by $ 300, 000. They were also able to get 21% more people to open and read their emails.


They achieved this feat by increasing the frequency of their mailing, plus sending their subscribers relevant content that they were interested in reading.


To come up with great newsletter content, you have to know what your donors want to hear. Forget about writing about what your organization cares and fears about. What your newsletter should focus on is writing about what the donor cares about.


What Do Donors Want To Hear?


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  • They want evidence that the organization is doing something useful. According to a 2012 study done by Cygnus Applied Research, 62% of donors want to see data before they can start giving.

They go to the organization’s website to dig out information. They want to see what the organization has done in the past with the donor funding received. They also want to see what the organization plans to do with the donations they are currently raising.

The stories you tell might appeal to their emotions, but they also want hard facts. That is charts, statistics and graphs.


  • They want to know what their money is doing. 8% of donors stopped giving because they didn’t receive any info on how the money they donated was used.

Donors want regular updates and information about how their donations have made a difference. Sending them regular updates about how their money is being used shows them that you care about the relationship that you have with them.

You can show them this impact by telling stories that are connected to your mission and what you do.


  • They want you to be transparent about how the money is used. 90% of donors stated that they wanted to know if the money they gave reached the intended beneficiaries.

No one wants to give to a charity and then later get to learn about the mammoth salaries that the administrators are earning. 42% of donors think that charities spend too much money on salaries of the executives in nonprofit organizations.

You must do what you said that you are going to do and you must handle the money wisely as you are doing it.

Donors want you to prove that they can trust you with their money. By increasing your transparency, your donors will trust you more and be more willing to give again and again.


  • They want to be thanked for their giving. 13% of donors never give again because they were never thanked for giving. A simple ‘Thank You’ shows them that their resources are appreciated. Gratitude goes a long way in fulfilling the emotional needs of the donors.

Thank your donors promptly after receiving donations.

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  • They want to know how they can be involved- 89% of wealthy people who give to a charity also volunteer their time to work with the charity. They give their money where they give their time.

Most people who give their money to a charity also want to be involved in other ways with it. Give your donors the opportunity to be part of your cause by informing them different ways that they can be involved in what you are doing, apart from just giving money.


  • They want to know that they have made a difference. 14% of donors complain that they do not see the impact their donations are having.

Show them this by using stories creatively to illustrate how their gifts have made a difference in someone else’s life.


  • They want to know the end results of your program– People are naturally curious and they want to know the end of the story.


Imagine watching an interesting movie and then never getting to see the ending. Don’t leave your donors hanging about the end results that were achieved. Close the loop by giving your story an ending.


Were you able to build the football field that you were raising funds for? This then creates expectation for the next story that you will tell, which hopefully will also have a happy ending.


  • They want to feel good about supporting the cause– They want to be assured that giving to your organization was the right thing to do. They don’t want to be worried that they went out of their way to give to your organization and then you wasted the funds.


16 Types of Newsletter Content

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Now that you know what your donors want to hear, how do you translate this into amazing newsletter content? Here are different ways to do it.

  1. Success stories – Write success stories to give examples of how you are helping the community. Everyone loves a good story. To tell a good story, your story should have 4 elements in it
    1. Explain what the problem was
    2. Explain how the problem impacted the life of the person you are helping
    3. Explain how your organization impacted the life of the individual
    4. Show the life of the person afterwards


  1. Case studies– Use case studies to illustrate why something was a success. Case studies help to show why some things worked and others didn’t. It also shows what went on behind the scenes.


  1. Answer frequently asked questions– Has anyone in your mailing list ever asked you a question? If they have, you can opt to answer that question in your next newsletter.

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Chances are that if one person asked, there are other people in your mailing list who may also want to know the answer to that question as well. Answering that question in your newsletter will be quite insightful to all your other subscribers.


  1. A survey invitation – Survey your audience and let them tell you what’s on their mind.


I am always surprised by the number of organizations that regularly send out newsletters to their subscribers but never even once ask their subscribers for feedback. Don’t be that organization.


Talk to your subscribers and give them a chance to talk back to you. It could be doing something as simple as asking them a question.


You can also carry out surveys from time to time.


  1. Your blog links– If your organization has a blog that you update on a regular basis, you can send your subscribers a link to your latest bog posts. This will keep them informed about what you are doing.


  1. Profile someone who showcases the kind of work that you do – Profile one of the people that your organization helps or someone who is involved in what you do or who has benefited before or hopes to benefit in future from your organization.


Profiling someone gives your donors the opportunity to put a face to your cause.


  1. Highlight any new partnerships that you have entered into. It could be with another person or with another organization. Explain why the partnership is important and what its aim is.

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  1. Thank everyone who donated – When you reach or even exceed your fundraising goals, make sure to inform your donors. It shows transparency and appreciation for what they have done.


  1. Progress updates – Send regular updates about how various programs are progressing. You can highlight when the project started, challenges faced, stages you have reached and what is still to be done.


  1. Announce upcoming events – If you are planning on holding any events, make sure to let your donors know well in advance.


Some of them may be interested in attending the events. Provide all the necessary details. This includes the date, time and venue of the event, as well as the reason or theme for the event.


  • Recap events for those who missed– Since not everyone will be able to attend the events, do those people who missed a favor by recapping the events. Include photos/videos/audios and explanations of what happened.


  1. Photos- Photos tell a lot. Use photos to show your donors what you are doing. You can include photos of events, behind the scenes, people you support etc. For instance; you can send out a newsletter that just consists of photos and captions.


  1. Quotes- If you have come across a quote that has impacted you or that explains everything that you do so well, you can turn it into a whole article for your newsletter. Use that quote to show how you stay motivated or overcome your problems.


  1. Recent work– Share recent things that you have been doing.


  1. Testimonials– Share testimonials from the people that your organization has helped.


The testimonials should include how the subject was impacted by the organization. For instance, you can get your donors and volunteers on video to enthusiastically share what your organization is doing.


  1. Tell your donors how they can get involved. Most donors want to give more than cash. Give them this opportunity by informing them how else they can give to your charity. For instance, if they can attend an event, sign a petition, join you in one of your projects etc.


If you keep writing the same type of newsletter content, after a while, all your emails are going to start sounding the same. This will bore your readers and they will stop reading your newsletters after sometime.


That is why it is advisable to come up with a variety of content. Mix up your content from time to time. Use the content ideas discussed above to mix things up.


The 3 Phrases That You Should Use Frequently In Your Newsletter Content


  1. You

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Forget about using ‘we’ and ‘us’, since this makes the donor feel excluded from what your organization is doing. Make the donors feel included by using ‘you’. Donors are part of your team and not just bystanders.


For example, instead of saying ‘We fed 5, 000 children last month, say ‘You fed 5, 000 children last month’.


  1. Thank you

Thank your donors for their money, advice and support. Making them feel appreciated will make them want to give again and again.


  1. ‘Will you/would you?’

Donors want you to be direct and clear. When making an ask, don’t be wishy washy and beat around the bush.


Instead of saying ‘I’d love it if you were to consider donating something to the children’s home’, say ‘Would you consider donating $ 100 to support the homeless children of Apata?’



Do not pass up the opportunity to provide your donors with great value and content. The 2 key questions you should ask yourself when writing content for your newsletters are

  1. What does my donor know expect?
  • Accountability– Show them that the funds were used for the purposes they were collected for
  • Acknowledgment that the money they gave made your work possible-Tell them how the funds were used
  • To be appreciated/thanked for their donations- Say Thank You
  • To be addressed directly– Personalize your emails by using the donor’s names


  1. What does my donor want
  • To feel good about their donation
  • To know that they have made a difference
  • To have a good understanding of what it is that you do- Use pictures, infographics, charts and statistics to pass this point across.

Does your newsletter content meet the expectations of your donors? Let me know in the comments section below?

Are you an NGO or a Non Profit organization? Would you like to get more funding for your projects?

Julie can help you do this by writing better emails/newsletters to send to your donors. Her main aim is to help you attract and retain donors, so that they can give more money towards your organization.

She can also manage your website and get more people to visit it by writing engaging blog posts, white papers, reports, brochures, case studies and whatever else you need. She does all this with the aim of attracting more people to your website, so that they can see and understand what you do and get encouraged to give financial support towards your organization.

If you need someone to write, format or set up your fundraising newsletters or write fundraising copy for you, you can reach Julie at

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