e-Newsletters: Communicating your Message to the Right Audience

Before committing to a regular newsletter, you need to know what you are trying to achieve, who you are trying to communicate with and whether an e-Newsletter is an appropriate communication medium.

Newsletter Objectives

First off, you need to know what purpose your newsletter will serve. Some common objectives include:

  • To increase the visibility of your organisation,
  • To create awareness of the issues you address,
  • To provide basic information, 
  • To raise funds,
  • To create discussion in the sector,
  • To create a sense of project continuity and commitment,
  • To improve your organisation’s image.

You might want to achieve most of these with your newsletter, but it is important to decide which are your primary objectives and which are secondary. Your newsletter design and content will differ accordingly.

For example, if your primary objective is to create awareness then you need to include descriptive and analytic content that provides information and context about the issue and informs your readers about recent developments and discussions on the topic.

On the other hand, if your primary objective is to create a sense of project continuity and commitment, then your content may be more focused on your activities, highlighting project successes, profiling key team members, and summarizing lessons that other project members can learn from.

Almost every nonprofit will want to improve or promote their image. The quality of your newsletter is a direct reflection on your organisation, so to promote a professional image, you need to have a high quality newsletter. That means:

  • good content, 
  • attractively displayed, 
  • in a user-friendly format, 
  • with no errors.

Target Audience

For your newsletter to be effective, you also need to be clear who you are trying to communicate with. Your audience might be:

  • Staff
  • Volunteers
  • Current Donors
  • Future Donors
  • Beneficiaries
  • Policy makers
  • General Public

The content, tone and delivery mechanism for your information will vary depending on which of these is your primary audience. It is tempting to say that you want to communicate with all of them. Try to narrow it down and choose one or two groups as your primary audience. If necessary the remainder can be seen as secondary audiences.

Once you are clear who your target audience is, you can tailor your content, tone and style to meet their specific needs. Target audience characteristics, such aseducation level, first language and interests are all relevant.

For example, if your beneficiaries are your target audience you should make sure that the tone and style of your writing appeals to that audience. So if you work with students, the tone needs to be informal and youth-oriented. If you work with farm workers, the language of choice and the level of language need to be appropriate.

You also need to tailor the content to your beneficiary group. If your primary audience is donors, you need to include content that speaks to your donors' interests and concerns. Your volunteers' interests and concerns are likely very different from your donors', so if your primary target audience is your volunteers then your content is likely to be quite different.

Suitable Medium

Depending on what your objectives are and who your audience is, you need to be sure that an e-Newsletter is an appropriate medium.

To do this, ask yourself:

  • Does your primary audience have access to email and the internet?
  • Is your primary audience comfortable reading material online?
  • Can the content that you want to delivery be communicated in short articles suitable for a newsletter?
  • Is there enough content to create a regular newsletter?

If an e-Newsletter is appropriate, then you can start to ask yourself practical questions about how to set up the Newsletter, including what financial and staff resources you need to allocate to this project and how to set about planning your newsletter.

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