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Designing Your Nonprofit Organizations’ E-zine


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E-ZINES – The alternative of choice for many organizations are a
great way to market yours. All you need is an e-mail account and
permission from your stakeholders to send the e-zine. In fact, I
have found e-zines to be so powerful that I write and produce
five a month. They are:

Self-Marketing News – a marketing newsletter for small to mid
sized businesses

PetalsNCents – a marketing newsletter for the floral industry

Creating A Legacy – a newsletter for the nonprofit community,
and

Ramblin’ Rose – a newsletter for my retail customers.

WECommerce News – a newsletter for Women Who do Business on the
web

The first thing you must do is collect your customers/clients
e-mail addresses. We collect them when they call, visit my
retail business, answer surveys, or enter our contests. We ask
for an e-mail address every time we have interaction with them.

Formatting your E-zine

Keep it basically the same from issue to issue. Consistency in
the format – can apply to many marketing strategies on the web.
That includes keeping it consistent with the colors and look of
your website to consistent categories in your newsletter.
Consistency helps your stakeholders understand what is coming
next – so they continue to look forward to receiving it.

Test new strategies with your newsletter – but you also need to
keep certain things similar so that you do not confuse your
stakeholders. This will decrease the amount of un-subscribes you
will receive.

Length and frequency of delivery – Make it easy to read and
brief. The length of your e-zine will depend on the frequency in
which you publish. If you publish your e-zine once a month
including two to three articles is the norm, however if you
publish on a daily or weekly basis, then I recommend only one
short article and or a tip. Too much or too little content will
quickly drive readers away.

Subject Line – The subject line of your e-zine should be
consistent. You can use the name of your e-zine, your
organization or another catchy title. The main thing is to use
the same subject line with each issue.

Table of Contents – “Table of Contents” or “In this Issue”
should appear at the beginning of the e-zine. This to let people
know what is in this issue. Most people scan the table of
contents see if there is an article that interests them..

Categories – Should remain the same from issue to issue. They
could include:

Editor’s or Executive Directors Remarks – A great place to
welcome people and thank them for their support.

One to three articles – Lead with the most important or
interesting article. This will get people to read the rest of
your e-zine.

Volunteer recognition and Thank-you’s

What’s New in the organization – Such as events and happenings.

Resources – Things your readers would appreciate receiving such
as complimentary reports, notices about upcoming seminars that
would be of benefit to them as well as a book review or two are
great items to put in the resource section of your e-zine.

Advertising and Sponsorship Support – Here’s where you thank
your supporters of the organization and advertisers of your
e-zine. Getting sponsors and advertisers to put ads in your
e-zine can make it cost you virtually nothing to produce. One
word of caution, follow the 80/20 rule so people won’t feel that
all you are trying to do is sell them something – that means
your e-zine should be 80 content and nor more than 20%
advertising.

Questions, Comments, Reader feedback – A great place to answer
stakeholders questions that other may also be interested in
knowing, comments and by all means any testimonials you receive
from your readers.

General Information – How to contact the organization,
subscribe, unsubscribe, refer others to the organization,
privacy statement and how to support the e-zine or organization.

Format

HTML e-mail – although HTML is not the preferred way for some
readers, all of my e-zines are HTML format. They simply look
better.

ASCII text – regular text email format, which includes up to 65
characters per line.

Web based – posting your e-zine on the web.

Font – use a generic font such as Arial, Times Roman, Courier,
or Helvetica

When designing your e-zine, here are some things to keep in
mind:

Use a Template – This provides consistency and you can make
changes gradually over time.

Spell Check – Always. Period.

Proofread – Have someone else proofread. I have a professional
editor read each issue. I read it over two or three times
between edits and so does the editor.

Answer Every Email – When someone writes an email to your
organization, there’s someone on the receiving end waiting for
an answer. You owe it to your readers to respond.

Inform, Entertain, and Serve – People sign up for email
newsletters to gain knowledge, information, to get involved, and
to be entertained.

Cultivate contributors – Take your time, build interest, gain
trust, then ask for money. Include links to giving pages. This
allows supporters to make a contribution via credit card or a
pledge. If your e-zine has what readers want, you will have a
much higher likelihood of increased giving. An e-mail newsletter
is an excellent tool for finding new donors online, and
increasing its circle of stakeholders.

The technology you use to disseminate your e-zine must be secure
and have the capabilities you either now need or will in the
future.

One of the most important things we had to deal with was when
our lists started growing (beyond 250); we were very limited in
sending through our original e-mail account (AOL). They have
rules and sometimes will freeze an account if you send too many
at once. The format would also get botched sometimes. The lists
became unmanageable when we had to remove the unsubscribes and
duplicates. Finding the ones who wish to unsubscribe can be
challenging. We switched to another service hoping they could
send our newsletters and maintain our lists. It was a good
service; however, we didn’t like the look of our newsletter. It
had limited capabilities (no bold or italic). Since I’m the
creative type, I didn’t want my ezines to look like everyone
else’s. We have now found a program we are very happy with.
There is no monthly fee, just a one-time purchase fee. It is
called Group Mail Pro – Mailing List & Group Management
Software. And it only costs $79.95 (and you own it). For more
information visit Group Mail Pro or follow this link:
(http://www.sellshareware.com/CustomView.asp?PrID=34362.&AfID=783
8&PageID=1)

Promotion

Have a subscription form on your website!

Have a sign up sheet at the office and at all events. If you
speak before a group, make sure you mention your e-zine. Some
people are bound to want to sign up.

Promote it with postcards in your monthly statements or on your
business card.

Tell anyone you think might be interested. This includes current
stakeholders, contributors and volunteers.

Offer a fr*ee report when people sign up. When people subscribe
to Legacy they receive not one but two reports just for trying
us out.

When you use e-mail for an outgoing message – to cultivate, to
inform, to request action, to ask for money – you are creating
public relations. Good things happen with E-zines; increased
visibility, increased contributions and goodwill. If you plan
your e-zine right, give it an interesting title and offer your
stakeholders benefits, your e-zine will be a success! Happy
Writing!

© 2005 – Heidi Richards

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  • Posted On April 11, 2006
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