Nonprofits Newsletters are DEAD

September 29, 2016

 

The digital age has created many challenges for the nonprofit sector.  When we look at our business model, we are pretty much rely on our donors for money, nearly begging them all the time.  But where is the return of that value?  Maybe it is the temporary satisfaction of their contribution, or maybe its the temporary gratification of their indirect impact. Yes, their willingness to pay is there at first, but each time your donor contributes there in a diminishing marginal utility on their returned emotional value. 

 

Nonprofit newsletters have always been a great way to inform customers and donors about what is going on.  They provide updates on current projects, new programs, changes, and of course always have a call to action.  Aside from the value of information, they are a flimsy piece of paper with pretty pictures and asking them for money.  Not to mention, the use of paper is completely hypocritical of our organizations mission for conservation and/or sustainability. 

 

The truth is, newsletters are dead. It is almost 2017 and our related industries are still using paper to pump out content in hope of donor contributions. People are not reading newspapers or magazines anymore-they are on the internet.  Riding on the train or the bus, waiting in a waiting room, out with friends, or riding in the car, physical paper has been replaced with smartphones (although books are still quite popular). 

 

If the goal of a newsletter is to provide educational information and emotional drive to donate money, then in 2016 our newsletters need to be in the form of a Quarter Doc.  It is way more beneficial for a sanctuary or a conservation organization to take the time and the money to produce a 15 minute quarterly documentary than to send out a piece of paper or email. 

 

This strategy allows organizations to bring their customers along the challenges and accomplishments over the last four months. Instead of looking at a pretty picture, you are allowing your customers to put themselves inside your business. They will be able to relate to your employees, the mission, and grasp the emotions behind their contributions.

 

The value of these documentaries work for three reasons 1) you are storytelling about your business, which is the number one marketing tool of 2016, 2) you are producing never before seen unique content, which is the number one goal of marketing, and 3) documentary films are so emotionally engaging that it has actually changes the opinions and behaviors of the general public (Blackfish, Super Size Me, etc). 

 

How easy is making a Quarter Doc? The more real life the footage (stumbling on words, sneezing, embarrassing, emotional) the more donors will be able to relate and form personal connections.  So, you don't need a professional editor. We now have access to video editing software such as the Adobe Premiere Pro, which has been used to edit visually stunning films such as Avatar and Deadpool. Its a beyond well worth investment, but remember its about the unique content and not winning an award. 

 

We live in an incredible noisy world with exponential distractions. Marketing is about innovative ideas that will make your business stand out from the rest, ensuring that your customers donate to you and no one else.  So in the wise words of Game of Thrones character Grand Maester Aemon, "Kill the newsletter, and let the Quarter Docs be born"

 

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