Tips on Personal Newsletter Writing
Show & emphasize how people are partnering with you.
Financial appeals should be in a separate letter, not embedded in your normal newsletter.
At least 3 times a year is good and not more than 6 times. Don't promise people how often you'll write a newsletter. To say that you will write regularly should be enough. Short email prayer requests/updates between letters is good to keep in touch as well as postcards to supporters.
One page or 2 at the most, copied back-to-back. You can reduce it to make a smaller, folded version, too. If reduced, keep the lettering large enough.
- Use plenty of "white space" -- not too cluttered. Keep your paragraphs and sentences as short as possible. It's easier for people to read when things are more spaced out.
- Use simple graphics -- use a picture with close-ups of faces, and good quality.
- Use a font that is simple and clear to read, preferably with curves and not too blocked.
Tone of Letter
- As personal as possible -- it helps to think of writing to one person.
- Be honest about your struggles as well as victories.
- Humbly share what God is teaching you.
- Don't preach, but do encourage.
- Don't start by apologizing for how long it's been since you last wrote.
- The first sentence should be a "dynamic hook" to draw people in - or you can begin with a question. "The rain started pouring down, and we ran for cover..." "Have you ever wondered what deep-fried grasshoppers taste like?"
- Not too many subjects in one letter -- describe one event well; use stories of people and how they're lives were changed.
- Use action verbs, and descriptive words.
- Be careful not to start each sentence with the same word, "I", "We", "The".
- Avoid religious jargon and YWAM terms that others won't understand.
- Avoid generalities, i.e. recently, few, many, several, much has happened.
- Don't use your regular newsletter to raise funds. Make a separate letter.
- Put a specific date on it rather than Winter 2001 or December 2001.
- Couples: sign the name of the person who wrote the letter. You can take turns writing or both write something in the same letter using your names.
- Colored paper is nice (not too dark).
- Have someone else proofread it for spelling and grammar mistakes.
- Pray before writing to get God's inspiration.
Special Financial Appeals
Be very specific about the need. People are interested in our specific needs. If it's an item, (computer, car, airfare, conference, school, etc.) you can make a giving "project" out of it. People like to give towards a specific need. Include a response form (and an envelope if appropriate - the easier we can make it for people to give the better).
There are several options: 1) Call first, then send: you can call people first to tell them about it and ask if you can send them the letter; 2) Send, then call: you can say in the letter that you will soon be calling them to see if they want to be involved.
Send out a follow-up letter or email about a month after the first one, updating people on the response and what you still need.
Resource: Free webbook on "Newslettering": http://brentmanke.com/ebook/newslettering.pdf
EMAIL NEWSLETTERS -- see Becoming Faithful Communicators