Is the Church Newsletter Dead? Part 1This has been a tough week for me. The end is near. Yes, this is the last week of American Idol. I have been a faithful fan for lo these past fifteen years. I have been to three Idol concerts (the last with – gasp! – a clergyperson). I know Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Adam Lambert heard me screaming for them. I’ve legally voted multiple times for my favorite artist (hey America, maybe we could text in our vote for President!). Idol even gave a reason for my teen-aged daughter and I to hang out – a true miracle in and of itself. So it’s over and I’m sad. American Idol, thanks for the memories.
The church newsletter seems to me to be a little like American Idol. It’s been around a long time, it’s taken for granted, and perhaps it’s lost its relevancy.
Non-profits and businesses have started to look at the value of their newsletters as well – and for good reason. Newsletters are expensive to copy and mail and they take a lot of time to put together. The trend has been to go electronic. I might even seem to be better to ditch the whole newsletter and save a ton of time, effort, and money.
But no…your newsletter can be an effective and great place to tell your story.
Before thinking about how you can tell your story better through your newsletter, take a moment to determine: will you keep your newsletter in paper or move to an electronic one?
This will surprise you coming from someone with an email blog, but I vote for a hard copy newsletter over an electronic one.
If you think about it, it’s really no surprise why a paper newsletter is better than an electronic one. Something lands in your email “in box” and you have three choices: read it immediately, delete it, or save it for later.
If you end up saving it for later, even with the best of intentions, it’s hit or miss whether you really will go back and read it. By the time you think about it, you can’t remember where it is and it’ll take clicking on two or three links before you can read the dang thing and…well Sunday is three days away and the bulletin and verbal announcements will tell you everything you need to know anyway.
There’s something still so satisfying (especially for a certain two or three generations who actually know what it means to read something on paper) to pick up something that is in hard print – especially if it’s from a trusted source. It lays around on your coffee table or in the mail drawer and suddenly you find yourself with a moment to read it. Voila! You remember why the newsletter is an important source of information.
Here’s the not-so-radical idea: Give your people the best of both worlds…a mailed hard copy and an electronic version of your newsletter – thus giving them the opportunity to choose what medium they prefer.
If the newsletter isn’t dead (yet) how can you make it more readable? Ah, dear friends, that’s why we have “part 2” coming to your in box next week. Send me a newsletter that you think is particularly good. I’d love to see it. And remember, do not hit “delete” next week!
P.S. I’m so excited that there’s a new way for us to stay in touch! I have a brand, spankin’ new Facebook page called (drum roll please) “Inspiring Generosity.” I’ll be posting my blogs there, asking for your input, answering your questions, posting interesting articles. I’m going for the Pulitzer here, folks. Help me out and “like” my page. You’re the best!
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over $2.5 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. Her money is on La’Porsha Renae for the Idol title. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation; she is available to consult with churches in Oregon and Idaho. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.