Writing A Newletter That People Will Actually Read And Respond To

Woman_reading_NewspaperPerhaps it dates back to times when people shared their common history through oral story-telling, but one thing is certain, people relate to stories – especially if they see themselves as part of the story.

So it follows that it is in your best interest to tell the stories of your clients, volunteers and donors in your organization’s newsletter.

However, it is not enough to tell your story; you need to present it in a way that people will actually read.

Here are some points to consider when creating your organization’s newsletter.


Can a person read your newsletter between meetings, on breaks between chores, while waiting in their car for their kids to get out of school? Each story in your newsletter should take only a couple of minutes to read. Aim for 150-300 words tops. Use pull-out phrases and ensure that if they are the only thing read, they summarize the whole story.

If your story is too long (no matter how well written) the reader may decide she doesn’t have time to read it at that moment and lay it aside. Odds are she won’t pick it up again.

Make your reader part of the story

Consider how you can make your reader part of the story. How does her involvement give the story a happy ending? Check out Dennis Fischman’s tips on telling stories here.

Make your newsletter easy on the eyes

Create a clean newsletter. Incorporate lots of white space. Use only one picture per page that draws the eye to one person who reflects your story.

Present a single, clear call to action

This is what we need. This is how you can help. When we are presented multiple options we can find ourselves waffling back and forth. When that happens, the probability that we will respond at all, diminishes completely.

Include a response device (a way that your reader can help) In a printed newsletter, this would mean a response card and pre-addressed envelope. In an e-newsletter this would mean a link to your giving page. In both formats, also include the name, phone number and email of the person they can contact for more information.

What do you look for in a newsletter? Do you have any proven tips that you could share in the comment area below?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.



  1. Tracy Lee Karner

    Good tips! I also look for something useful–something that rewards me for reading (reliable information, encouragement, networking opportunities, or money-saving or time-saving tips…)

    And a huge echo to “Make it easy on the eyes.” Should apply to blogs, too. I can’t tell you how many blogs I don’t read, because they are hard on the eyes.

  2. bulldog

    Tracy has a good point there… “make it easy on the eyes..” I still think the most important point is brevity and interest… capturing a readers attention and holding it is not the easiest today, People tend to speed read, seek the important points and if they don’t capture them they’re gone… if the interest is there people tend to stay captured… not easy these days with the internet proving people spend only seconds on some websites because they don’t capture their interest from a first look… I have family in the IT game that analyse hits and time spent and then look to the site to see why… some of the results astound me…

    • The Other Bottom Line

      I bet the results would be astounding. When you consider that one page of the NY Times gives a person more information than a person in 1800’s got in a lifetime, it’s no wonder that, people skim over stuff unless it immediately grabs them. Thanks for weighing in bulldog.


  3. Kerwyn Hodge

    Those are great tips, Diana! They’re sure to make a newsletter easier to read and use. I’m betting they apply to blog posts as well…although I break the word length rule almost EVERY SINGLE TIME! (deep sigh!)

    • The Other Bottom Line

      Thanks Kerwyn!

      I think blogs are different as far a number of words depending on what their theme is, what their purpose is (educate, entertain, etc.,) who the audience is and so on.

      In fundraising newsletters we want to tell a succinct story and hopefully have them respond to a single, clear call to action.

      I suppose sales would be much the same. I mean look at ads; they have few words, make their pitch and then ask you to buy.

      Tips like lots of white space, easy on the eyes, etc., would certainly apply to blogs though, wouldn’t you think?


      • Kerwyn Hodge

        Most definitely! The cleaner the blog, the easier it is to read. White space, use of images/video, subheads, bulleted lists – all those things make a blog more appealing to a reader visually. It invites them to take a look. Hopefully, once they do, they are inspired to engage with the writer! 😉

  4. Professions for PEACE

    These are all excellent tips! And you certainly excel at including brevity Diana, helping to make your blogs even more enjoyable. These tips are easily transferable to blogging as well. Love it! Thank you for sharing. Cheers, Gina

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