While email newsletters have been around almost since the dawn of email itself, they’re currently seeing a resurgence in popularity. In fact, 90% of Americans are subscribed to at least one newsletter—most of them (74%) receive newsletters from between 1 and 10 entities. If your organization sends out a member newsletter, you have a solid communication method on your side!
But with newsletters being so popular today, how can you stand out in crowded inboxes and create a member newsletter that your members open and—equally important—want to read?
What’s the Point of a Member Newsletter?
When you’re a member association, it’s important to have ways to communicate and connect with members on a regular basis. It’s critical for member engagement and, ultimately, for member retention. A member newsletter or club newsletter is a great tool to share important information with members in a place they likely visit every day, multiple times a day: their email inbox.
We’ll cover more about what the best membership newsletters include. But, generally, your member newsletter should have a few strategic sections that deliver updates, resources, and more to your members. In this article, you’ll find four tips to keep in mind when building your newsletter and 14 ideas for your newsletter’s content.
Let’s get started!
Tips for a Read-Worthy Member Newsletter
As one of your organization’s central member communication hubs, your member newsletter is worth the time and effort it takes to get it right. Here are a few best practices that can help you as you get started with your member newsletter and your communication strategy as a whole.
Consider Your Audience
The key to creating a member newsletter that people keep opening and reading is to offer content that’s beneficial to them in some way. Channel the audience reading your newsletter—what’s helpful to them?
If your newsletter includes irrelevant information, your members won’t see any need to open it, and you’ve cut off a major communication avenue with them. Not every type of content will resonate with every type of audience. For example, a “Song of the Week” newsletter section might seem fun (and, to be fair, it is!), but it’s an idea that would be most likely to intrigue members of an acapella group, not members of a construction contractors association.
Keep Members in the Loop
Members should know they can rely on your member newsletter for the information they need. Use it to help members stay informed! What do your members need to know? Share upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, organization updates, etc., to give members a steady stream of reminders and resources.
Mind Your Design
When you use consistent branding, members will learn to associate your organization with a certain look. This helps develop trust; members recognize that communications come from your organization because they recognize your branding.
When developing the design of your member newsletter, remember that branding matters. Try not to branch too far out of the brand that members know—this consistency ties your member communications together and builds brand recognition.
Quality > Quantity
The biggest, most avoidable mistake organizations make when launching a member newsletter is doing too much too quickly. Some organizations have the capability (and reasons) to send multiple emails per week. But there’s no need to send daily emails or a weekly newsletter if your team can’t keep up with that cadence.
It’s better to send one newsletter per month (which is common and perfectly okay!) than to send newsletters more frequently that contain content that isn’t helpful to your audience. Whatever you do, maintain a content calendar and be consistent. When it comes to member newsletters that get opened and read, consistency and quality beats quantity any day.
Member Newsletter Content Ideas
When you read “content calendar” in the section above, you may have been thinking: “Okay, but what’s supposed to go in it?” There are a ton of options for newsletter sections, and, of course, the sections you choose to include should be ones relevant to your members.
Looking for newsletter ideas and content inspiration? This section will help you get started.
1. Include a Letter From the Editor
Organization leaders are busy and may not always have the capacity to connect with members as much as they’d like. Your member newsletter could be an opportunity to help members connect with the people behind your organization, such as your CEO or another key person in leadership or on staff. One of your newsletter sections (typically the first one right at the top) can be a letter from this person.
2. Spotlight Staff
Your members likely aren’t aware of everyone who helps make things happen within your organization. Who organizes the events that members have so much fun attending? Who creates the resources and sets up the workshops that help them in their career? Introduce these valuable staff to your members by featuring them in your member newsletter.
3. Recap Events
From volunteer days to fundraising galas, organizations have a lot of events that not all members can attend. And even those who did attend may not have caught every announcement or other detail. In addition to announcing upcoming events, remember you can use your member newsletter to summarize and celebrate past events.
4. Go Behind the Scenes
Your members should always receive some type of benefit from opening your communications. One benefit can be exclusive details and a look behind the scenes in your member newsletter.
Think about what would be interesting to see. For example: Which local business did you work with to screen print the latest member t-shirts? Spotlight them and show the printing process! Did you put together an industry-related research report? Share your research methodology and the story behind how the report came to be.
5. Recognize Volunteers
Does your organization get by with a little (or a lot) of help from volunteers? Your member newsletter is a great place to highlight those volunteers who help the organization run smoothly. You can share a photo of the volunteer and a few points about how they serve the organization, or include an interview with them.
6. Share Resources
Consider who your members are: animal lovers, professionals in a certain field, nature enthusiasts, etc. Based on this information, what type of resources can you include in your member newsletter that would interest them? For example, if you’re an organization for elementary teachers in Texas, you might share a link to a weekend workshop for educators or free printable worksheets for their classes.
7. Remind Members of Benefits
If you offer a list of benefits with membership, your member newsletter is a great place to spotlight those benefits. This can help members remember why being in the organization is worth it and inspire them to get the most out of their membership. You could also share stories of members who took advantage of their membership benefits and how it improved their lives.
8. Celebrate Milestones
Every time your organization hits a milestone or goal, that’s member newsletter content! Let’s say you reached a fundraising or membership goal, hosted an event where more people showed up than ever, or celebrated a special anniversary—that’s an exciting special edition of your member newsletter.
9. Offer More Context
You can’t always include all the details on every platform (especially social media), so your member newsletter is an ideal space to provide additional context and information.
Say, for example, your organization launched a giveaway on social media that only members in a certain tier can enter. In your next member newsletter, you could expand on why upgrading to that membership tier is worth it and how to do it. Or, you announce an event and receive follow-up questions from members. Answer those questions in your member newsletter to make sure every member has the information they need.
10. Announce Exciting Updates
Did your organization hire a new Executive Director? Have you added a new member benefit? Share these exciting updates with your members through your member newsletter. Members will associate the newsletter with positive news, which makes them more compelled to open the email.
11. Share Interviews
While member newsletters are an excellent channel for repurposing existing content, you can also create special content. Interviews are a great content type for this and can be shared in video or text format. Industry experts, organization staff, subject matter experts, and members themselves are all wonderful candidates for newsletter interviews.
And, just because you conducted an interview for your member newsletter doesn’t mean you can’t use it elsewhere! Post quotes from the interview on social media or post the interview transcript on your blog.
12. Direct Members to Social Media
Some of your members may not be aware that your organization has an active social media presence! Those who are subscribed to your member newsletter are likely to be interested in what you share on social media. In your newsletter, encourage members to follow your organization on social media and share what type of content to expect on each platform.
13. Share Direct Links
Social media, direct mail, and campaign emails aren’t the places to share many links. But you can introduce a topic to your audience on one platform and share related links in your member newsletter. For example, you might post about must-read books for sports industry professionals and a list of books with direct links to each one in your newsletter.
You could also link to a campaign page or video to increase traffic to it, a photo gallery from an event, or a robust list of resources or articles your members would be interested in. Everything you had to say “link in bio” for on social media can be rounded up in your newsletter.
14. Years (or Months) in Review
Recap your organization’s month or year. What happened in the past month? What were the month’s highlights and most important updates? What modes of progress did your organization see throughout the year? What were the year’s biggest accomplishments?
Send Successful Emails Backed by Data
Creating a member newsletter that your members will love begins with a solid email strategy. Get strategy recommendations, specific industry benchmarks, and other tactics for improving your emails in The Nonprofit Email Report: Data-Backed Insight for Better Engagement. Each benchmark is broken down into averages for large and small nonprofits, plus recommendations and ideas for improving your engagement. Download your copy of the report today!
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