Most missionary newsletters are set up to fail right from the start. It is not that the missionary wants the newsletter to fail but it is the approach that they take that will cause them to fail. Even though creating a missionary newsletter might seem like an easy task, it is quite a challenging task to do right.
However, there is no need to despair. It is possible to turn your newsletter into a success. This is by avoiding mistakes that will set you up for failure.
Here are some of the major mistakes that missionaries tend to make when writing their newsletters.
Starting Your Missionary Newsletter with an Apology
This is a turn off and it doesn’t set the right tone for the rest of your newsletter. Avoid apologizing and just launch directly into why you are writing the newsletter.
Apologizing too much undercuts your professionalism and makes others to start losing confidence in you. Most of the times that people start off by apologizing to their readers, it is because they have taken too long to send a newsletter. To avoid this problem make sure to send out your newsletters in time on a regular basis.
Leaving Out Pictures
Articles which have pictures get 94% more views than articles without pictures. People love visual enhancements, so leaving out pictures will be a big blow to your newsletter.
Including Poor Quality Pictures
The better the quality of the photo, the more it drives engagement. 63% of customers think that the quality of a photo is even more important than the information provided about the product.
That is why your pictures should be focused, big enough, of good quality and have captions. Never include a picture without a caption. The pictures you share should also be relevant to what you are writing.
Making Your Newsletter Too Long or Too Short
Aim to find the perfect length that will pass across the information that you want.
Too short and the donor won’t get the gist of what you are doing in the mission field, too long and you risk rambling on and on and boring your reader to tears. You have to keep experimenting until you find the perfect length that works for you.
Failing to Be Donor Centered
Think about your readers. Don’t only write about what interests you, write about things that interest your donors.
A good example of being donor centered is telling your donors how the money they gave was used. 8% of donors stop giving because the missionary does not tell them how the money donated was used. Your newsletters should aim to let the donors know how the monies they gave made a difference.
Make your newsletter stand out. Whether in your storytelling or your design, you’ve got to make your newsletter distinct.
Cramming In Too Much Information
This problem will occur if you don’t send out newsletters frequently enough. If you find yourself having too much to say, then it may be better to increase the frequency of your newsletters than try to include everything in a single newsletter.
Mailing Too Frequently or Too Infrequently
18% of donors stop giving as a result of poor communication from the missionary. That is why you have to find the right balance between mailing too frequently and mailing too infrequently.
Most people receive too much mail in the first place, so mailing too frequently may overwhelm them. Mailing too infrequently on the other hand puts you at the risk of being forgotten by the donor. 9% of donors stop giving because they can no longer remember the Charity they were giving to.
You are doing well and your kids are excelling in school, fine but don’t brag about it in your newsletter. Showing off gives the impression that you are doing so well and you may no longer need the support of your donors. This may cause some of them to stop giving to your cause.
Talking Too Much About Your Kids
This is especially true if your kids are all grown up. Donors give funds to support a specific cause and they mainly want to hear about whether or not that cause is being accomplished.
They don’t want to hear you go on and on about how great your children are and how much they are excelling in life.
Families with small kids are the ones who tend to get caught up in this trap, as they are excited about their children and they get carried away and all they want to talk about is their kids.
On the other hand, some donors may want to hear about your kids and how they are coping in the mission field. So how do you achieve the delicate balance of including too much or too little information about your kids?
- Include a sentence or two about your kids in your newsletters
- Talk about your kids every once in a while but not in every newsletter that you send out
- You can dedicate a part of one of your newsletters to talking about your kids and then focus on other stuff in the rest of your newsletters throughout the year.
Leaving Out Family/Personal Details
Don’t completely ignore talking about your family and what is going on with you. You just need to find the right balance between your ministry work and personal life.
Family updates and cultural tidbits help to put your mission work in context and make for an interesting read. Just don’t let them take over your entire newsletter.
Rubbing Your Vacation in Their Faces
Great! You took a vacation and you took the kids to Disneyland-you don’t need to rub it in your donor’s faces. Don’t go on and on about what a wonderful time you had during your vacation and to add to that include tonnes of pictures of you having fun.
Your donors understand that you need to take a vacation every once in a while, but if you seem to be always going off on holiday, especially to exotic, expensive locations that even some of your own donors may never be able to afford to go to, then they will start to think that maybe you are so financially well off you probably don’t need their financial support at all. 5% of donors stop giving because they think that the charity no longer needs them.
Including Drab Details
Your supporters don’t need to hear about all the dull details that go on in your mundane life. So you had tea with Mr. Watson on Friday afternoon and you met up at a café with some of your new friends and you led bible study for the first time. So what? How does that tie into the bigger picture of what you are doing?
Be very selective about what you include in your newsletters. If nothing major happened since you sent out your last update, go and make something significant happen before your next newsletter and then include it.
Skimping On Emotional Triggers
Tag on your donors hearts by including stories and details that will be sure to move them. Appeal to the heart and not to the head because people donate more because of feelings and not because of logic.
Writing Weak Headlines/Email Subject Lines
64% of people will not read past your subject line. If your email subject line is not interesting, people will not even your email open.
That is why you should put some thought into your subject lines. Make them interesting and catchy enough to get your readers to click open your emails.
Asking For Money All the Time
38% of donors stop giving because they received too many solicitation requests for funds. If all your updates are about requests for money, you will wear out your donors and they will stop reading your newsletters. Its okay to ask once in a while but don’t ask too frequently.
Your donors want news and updates about what the money they are giving is accomplishing in the mission field. If they want to get preached to, they will attend a church service on Sunday or a bible study.
When it comes to your newsletters, concentrate on informing your donors about the accomplishments you have achieved and save all your preaching for your discipleship students. Harsh but brutally true.
Starting Your Newsletters with a Bible Verse or Bible Passage
This may seem like the spiritual thing to do but it is often not effective, as people tend to skip reading bible passages and jump straight to reading updates about what is going on in the mission field. This is closely tied to the point above.
Leaving Your Readers Hanging
If there is something that needs to be followed up from your previous newsletter, ensure to inform your readers how the issue was resolved in your next newsletter.
For instance, if you stated that you needed surgery and you asked your supporters to pray for you, ensure to inform them how the surgery went and the results of the surgery in your next newsletter.
In your newsletters, don’t criticize your host culture and highlight everything that is wrong with it and what needs to be improved. You went there to accomplish a task and not act as judge, so concentrate on that.
Including Nasty Stuff
Don’t include details or photos that your readers will find disgusting.
The Unsubscribe From Hell
Under the SPAM Act 2003, every email you send out should have an unsubscribe link.
Unsubscribing from your newsletter should be fast and easy. Don’t make your readers jump through a lot of hoops before they can be able to unsubscribe or don’t make it impossible for them to unsubscribe. You only want people who are interested in getting your newsletters in your mailing list.
You can include a sentence or two in your newsletters informing your subscribers how they can leave your mailing list. For example, you can say:
- To unsubscribe from these newsletters, click on this link
- To unsubscribe from these newsletters, reply to this message with the word UNSUBSCRIBE on the subject line
Also, since some of the people on your mailing list may be your family or friends, they might find it awkward to ask you to remove them from your list. That is why I recommend automating the unsubscribe process, because then your subscribers will not have to worry about offending you when they leave your list.
Once a reader asks you to stop sending them newsletters then stop immediately! If they want to start hearing from you again, they will ask to be added back to your mailing list.
If you can avoid these 22 mistakes described here, then you will be well on your way to creating great missionary newsletters.
If used correctly, your missionary newsletters can be a great tool that will help to nurture your relationship with your donors. So do your best to maintain a good relationship with your newsletter subscribers?
What other mistakes have you seen missionaries make in their newsletters.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.