The Goldie Company

Parley: December 2014 - This is what a Vigilant Fundraiser looks like: Ed Sluga

Step 10: Marketing through a Newsletter

For Ed Sluga, “an organization is positioned for success only when it is operated as a legacy for those it served”. As one of Canada’s most experienced planned giving professionals, Ed realizes that it about more than raising money, it is about advancing the organization’s mission to serve its community.

Ed is currently the Managing Consultant for PGgrowth. After helping hundreds of international, national, regional and local organizations develop and benefit from sustainable fundraising and planned giving programs, Ed is motivated to help organization’s achieve the goals of their mission within their communities. He has shared his incredible insight through various writings, including publishing, Planned Giving: Making it Happen, editor of Canadian Gift Planning Journal and co-author of Worthy and Prepared.

For Ed, the value of a newsletter cannot be undervalued. It is, for many organizations, the primary means of formulating ever-lasting bonds with key stakeholders and advancing the organization’s mission. Ed provides us insight into newsletter creation and how it can be used in an organization’s marketing mix.

What do you need to consider when creating a newsletter?

Before beginning with a marketing and communication discussion, you need to think of your target market. You need to see if the target market will respond to the type of communication you’re going to use. Internally you need to see if it will meet the need such as reinforce the brand, connect to individuals and create understanding in the sector. If you want to enrich an audience, articulate who you are and what you are trying accomplish in the world to make it a better place, then we might decide on using a newsletter.

Who should your target audience be when circulating a newsletter?

The target audience should be those who take an interest. You have to ask yourself, “How do you define a donor”? This will give you a dividing line of who and who shouldn’t get a newsletter. A donor for an organization can be defined as someone who has donated for three years, or educational institutions may define a donor who is over the age of 60. The key is to define the target by those who believe in your cause, are really interested and can utilize the knowledge and expertise in the field and seen as someone who is giving in depth and thoughtful comment on a particular issue or organization.

How can you use a newsletter in your marketing mix or as a means to brand your organization?

You need to publish your brand and interact with the individual instead of marketing the brand. A newsletter asks for feedback, is more in-depth and interactive than other engagement tools. It allows you to build more deeply and enrich and solidify your branding. It must be seen as something that is a peek into your organization that is greater than standard messaging.

Why does new media and social media fail when used in isolation?

Social media is outward facing information. It is a monologue, not a dialogue. Some cases are exceptionally emergent, for instance social media can be exceptionally powerful in communicating that people are desperate and need help after a hurricane in South America. However, social media could be difficult in showcasing the need of library services being cut if it doesn’t receive funding. Social media is not a place for engagement, it may grow into that, but doesn’t foster dialogue. For the most part, major gift donors want a discussion on what their partnership is, their need and how their dollar will be spent. A newsletter is targeted and provides richer information.

What are the advantages in circulating a newsletter?

The main advantage is its ability to tell richer and deeper stories that people can engage in. There is a design and format that you can’t get on screen, it is more tangible. It is not immediate, it comes in the mail, but it contains the “linger factor”. It’s like the magazine methodology, where Vanity Fair have powerful images on their front cover, because it lingers on the book shelf or coffee table for months or years. It’s all about longevity.

Has the newsletter changed in the last 25 years? What will be the fate of the newsletter within the next 25 years? Will it be obsolete?

It is currently more publication oriented. Newsletters used to be like a letter, it was text heavy and very detailed. Now they are much more engaging to the eye, with colours and photos. It tries to give an in-depth view with snapshots. In terms of fundraising, the donor is key as you can engage with the donor with fresher and broader use of design. I don’t know what will be the fate of the newsletter in 25 years. I think it will be a much more digitized conversation with the donor and public, but the concept will remain the same. The channels may be different.

What does a “vigilant” fundraiser mean to you?

A ‘vigilant fundraiser’ is a thoughtful professional; doing the job in a thoughtful and proactive way. They build skills, show professional ability, focus on the donor and build relationships. They are constantly reinventing their own abilities to represent the organization they are charged with in circulating its mission to the world.

Reinvention. Thoughtfulness. Professionalism. Like a vigilant fundraiser, a newsletter performs the same functions.

Julie Dorsey is a Copywriter for The Goldie Company. She interviewed Ed Sluga for his thoughts on creating a sustainable newsletter.