Writing Newsletters That Get Read Every Time

Brian Sun

For five days (from January 5-9) Staffhacker contributor Brian Sun is going to tell you why he uses Mailchimp (and why you should too), show you how to write your first email, and give you tips on how to write effective newsletters and get more subscribers.

Let’s be honest, if your email newsletters are boring or require too much effort most of your donors aren’t going to read them. These two ideas can help your newsletters get read every time.

Make shout outs to people.

I borrowed this idea from an InterVarsity staff in St. Louis. Here’s how it works: on the sidebar in your newsletter, create a section called “shout outs” where you write a person’s name and say a little something to them.

Here’s an example (look at the right sidebar.)

To make sure everyone gets shouted out to over time, create an Excel Spreadsheet with two columns: the names of everyone on your email list and a mark if they’ve been shouted out to. No shout out = no mark. Each time you send an email update, re-visit the shout out doc to see who’s next. Some ideas: say hi to someone you haven’t talked to in a long time, say it was nice seeing you to someone you ran into at Starbuck’s, say an inside joke to your best friend. The possibilities are endless.

After you’ve sent your email update with the shout outs, write on the wall of the people you shouted out to saying “hey Tony, I made a shout out to you in the email update I just sent. Check it out.” If you write on their Facebook wall, these people will open your update about 99% of the time.

Write the prayer in the email

I love my donors. And I know they love me. But I also know they forget to pray for me and my ministry on campus. I’d be foolish to think that I am at the forefront of their minds (unless it’s my mom) so I want to make praying for me as easy as possible for them. That’s where “write the prayer in the email” comes in.

Traditionally we would write, “Here are my prayer requests: funding, relationships, and funding,” then expect our donor to set aside time to pray for us. Cut out the extra step of having to set aside a time to pray for you by writing out the prayer in the email. On your email you would write “Lord, I pray that you would provide for Timmy in his funding and grow him in his relationships on campus, amen.” That’s it.

Here’s an example.

In the midst of a cluttered email inbox, implementing these two ideas can help your newsletters to stand out from everyone else.

By Brian Sun | Posted: Jan 09, 2011
Category: Email/Communications | Tags: | Permalink | Post a comment | Trackback URL.


  1. April 5, 2011, 11:21 pm | Permalink

    Hi Brian! I found you through http://www.metabelle.com/the-power-of-mailchimp-analytics/. I’ve read every one of your articles and would like to thank you for promoting a better ministry-partner environment for everyone. 🙂

    My name’s Melvin, I work for a house church planting movement here in the Philippines. I’ve been getting our staff to use Mailchimp and other online tools to foster a gospel-advancing community. I would love to just get to chat sometime, to share thoughts and ideas on this. Please drop me a line. 🙂

    • April 8, 2011, 6:05 pm | Permalink

      Melvin, thanks for your wonderful compliment. It made my day : )

      I just emailed you about chatting sometime. Talk to you soon!

  2. April 14, 2011, 1:02 am | Permalink

    You have an incredible open rate in your Mailchimp campaigns Brian. What are some practical benefits of that?

    • April 14, 2011, 10:08 pm | Permalink

      Two main benefits come to mind:

      1. When my summer fundraising season comes around, I know who’s been engaged and tracking with me throughout the year — as a result, I’ll talk to them first. In my perspective, more engagement = more commitment.

      2. More people are praying for me. Much prayer = much power.

      Can you think of any other practical benefits?


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