They aren’t.

Nonprofit enewsletters aren’t changing.

Wha? Nonprofit enewsletters AREN'T Changing?

Wha? Nonprofit Enewsletters AREN’T Changing? (picture by Heinlter on flickr)

For the last few weeks I’ve been researching nonprofit enewsletters, from even giant billion dollar nonprofits, and we see the same issues we saw 5 or even 10 years ago. People are still writing headlines like “From the Development Office” which isn’t really a headline. People are still using subject lines like “News from Dog Nonprofit.”

Sure, people are adding links to facebook, twitter, and youtube. That’s different. But, so what?

In nonprofit enewsletters these days, they may even say “like us on Facebook!” That doesn’t contribute to donations to your nonprofit. Therefore, it’s not a useful thing to ask enewsletter subscribers to do.


Bad nonprofit enewsletters are part of a larger issue.

It’s called fundraising staff turnover, and it happens a lot. More often than not.


Why do fundraising staff leave?

As far as I can see, there are three main reasons.

1. They are fired for no reason, with no due process.

Often this reflects lack of supervision on the board’s part, and lack of a sense of responsibility on the management team to fundraise. I’ve blogged before about what happens when the board is checked out.


2. They decide to leave because there is no supervision or no career path in the organization.

Recently a fundraising friend of mine left her job at a national nonprofit because to move up they said she had to have a masters or PhD degree, even though they didn’t care what field it was in, and it would have nothing to do with how she did her fundraising job.


3. They are paid ridiculously tiny amounts and expected to work miracles, and do 3 people’s jobs, or more.

This contributes to burnout, which contributes to people leaving the field. People fall into fundraising. That means they need training. Even if you say you can’t pay people more, if you don’t provide direction, training, support, and peer relationships for your fundraising staff person, why would you expect them to stick around? I’ve blogged on 10 reasons to pay fundraising staff more here.


How can you reduce turnover at your nonprofit?


1. Don’t assume nonprofit staff are idiots.

They are not. They care a great deal. Just because you’re paying them $10 per hour doesn’t mean they do not deserve just as much respect at your CEO. If you respect nonprofit staff, appreciate them, talk about successes and encourage them to share their stories from programs, you’ll have gone a long way towards ensuring that they stick around. Want more ideas for how to demand dignity at work? Click here.


2. Don’t skimp on the training budget.

This is often the first thing to go when money is tight. You need to get on board with training your staff. They need to stay on top of, for example, the best ways to write e-newsletters. And grants. And how to get sponsors. And innovations in how to deliver programs. So show them that you care about them, and they will be grateful, and go the extra mile for you.

In fact, you can come to my free webinar tomorrow on how to write enewsletters. If you’re reading this after August 22nd, I’ve got another webinar on getting donations through enewsletters on September 12th.


Illustration by Mazarine Treyz, from The Wild Woman's Guide to Fundraising

Illustration by Mazarine Treyz, from The Wild Woman’s Guide to Fundraising

3. Praise people publicly.

Is your boss a little raincloud in your organization? What’s a way to turn that around? Help your management team become solution focused instead of griping and complaining about what’s wrong all the time. My friend Christina Attard turned me on to Alan Kay’s book which talks about solution focused work. I bought it and liked it so much that I blogged about it. You can read more about what it means to be solution focused here.

Do you have any other ideas for making nonprofit enewsletters better? Please leave a comment.


If you want to learn how to write a better nonprofit enewsletter, come to my webinar on September 12th. We’re going to break it down and have fun too!

This is part of the August Nonprofit Blog Carnival by Joanne Fritz, nonprofit editor of About.com. This month’s carnival is run by Kivi Leroux Miller. Check out her blog on august 28th, 2012, for other posts on this topic, to see what other people said.