One of the most common questions non-profits grapple with is how often to send out communication to their donors and supporters AND when they do, how long should that communication be.
This is an interesting question because it has several right answers.
- If you’re interested in writing only the amount that statistics tell us most people will read, you should keep your content very short (200-300 words per story). Why spend hours of brainpower perfecting a long article when most people will only skim it.
- If you’re interested in moving people to action, many people believe longer content is more effective. One example: 5 Reasons Why Long Content and Blog Posts Are Once Again the Future of Content Marketing. These writers don’t care that most people will never trudge through it all: Those who do are going to be committed to taking action.
- In regard to blog posts, very short articles (less than 200 words) can actually work against you in search engine optimization. According to the article, Blog Post Length and SEO, “thin content” throughout your entire blog and/or website is penalized by some search engines. This articles suggests posts between 200 and 800 words are the optimum length.
I like Kivi Leroux Miller’s suggestion: “Use as many words as you need, but only what you need.”
Kivi once again provides some valuable insight with her 2013 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report. This information is compiled from a survey of 1,435 non-profits and can be a good measure of conventional wisdom, letting you know what others out there are doing. In regard to how often to contact supporters/donors:
- 84% say they send an email newsletter at least once per month. 34% will email more often than once per month.
- 94% rely on extra contacts through Facebook and 62% rely on Twitter to achieve this. 36% said they would experiment with Pinterest this year.
- 50% said they would send print newsletters at least quarterly, some more often than that (39% quarterly, 9% monthly).
Here’s a suggestion from me. If you don’t know how often to send emails and print newsletters, ask. Call up or invite your donors/supporters for coffee. It gives you a excuse to touch base in a personal way, they feel like they’re providing helpful feedback, and you find out if they feel neglected or bombarded. Astoundingly simple concept! (379 words)