Resources Needed for a Quality e-Newsletter

e-Newsletters are relatively quick and easy to set up and have the potential to reach thousands of people. However, nonprofits regularly under-estimate the amount of time and effort required, especially when it comes to developing newsletter content.

Resources required

To produce a good e-Newsletter you need to dedicate resources to:

  Type of resource Regularity
Developing your overall strategy Communications and Management staff time Once off
Designing your template Web Designer Fee / Staff time Once off
Mailing your newsletter Money for hosting service / Free Ongoing
Planning each issue Staff time Ongoing
Writing content for each issue Staff time Ongoing
Editing and proofing content Staff time Ongoing
Finding and preparing images Staff time / Money for Photographer Ongoing
Putting together each newsletter issue Staff time Ongoing
Responding to queries Staff time Ongoing
Gathering data and reporting Staff time Ongoing

If you want to produce a professional product, a surprising amount of staff time is required. Volunteers may be able to assist with some of these tasks, but you need to understand what the overheads are. 

Skills

You also need to make sure that the staff members involved have the required skills:

Do staff have appropriate writing skills? 

This is something that is often overlooked. Staff members may not be writing in their home language, or they may be used to writing in an academic style which is inappropriate for a newsletter. It is important to have a single person edit and proof the entire newsletter to ensure that content is written in an appropriate style and that grammar is correct and there are no typos or other mistakes. See our article on writing for e-Newsletters for some tips.

Can a staff member manipulate and optimise images for the web?

Publishing photos on the web usually requires them to be resized and optimized so that they download quickly and easily. Photos may also need to be adjusted to improve lighting, or cropped to show only the relevant portion. Having someone who can do this is very valuable. Poor quality photos, squashed photos or photos with large file sizes can create a negative impression and irritate your readers. 

Does an available staff member have basic HTML skills?

Although this is not entirely necessary when using tools such as MailChimp, it is very useful to have someone who is at least familiar with HTML (the code which is used to create all web pages, including newsletters). This person can ensure that the newsletter is laid out correctly and consistently. 

Reduce the resources required

  • You can adjust the amount of resources required by reducing the frequency with which you publish the newsletter. For example, instead of a monthly newsletter, publish a quarterly or bi-annual newsletter. 
  • You can also reduce the amount of content you include. For example, instead of having ten articles in each issue, commit to five articles per issue.
  • Remember to include a line item in your budget to cover the costs of the newsletter. Also be sure to allocate enough staff time in your work plans.