Church newsletters are a staple of congregations everywhere. No matter the size or denomination, churchgoers want to stay in the loop. Whether you’re sharing scripture, messages from church leaders, or photos from recent events, the possibilities are endless.
Best of all, church newsletters foster a sense of community, encouraging your congregants to stay connected with one another and with church leaders.
To kick off your church bulletin efforts, explore these key concepts:
- Church Newsletters: The Basics
- Church Newsletter Tips and Best Practices
- Church Newsletter Ideas to Excite Members
- Pro Tips for Modern Church Communication
Here at Snowball, we aim to provide nonprofits like churches with the best fundraising tools on the market to boost revenue. We’ve helped organizations of all shapes and sizes strengthen their relationships with their supporters and communities, propelling them toward their goals.
From our experience, effective fundraising all comes down to communication! For churches, newsletters are the best way to establish an open line of communication and capture supporters’ attention.
Church Newsletters: The Basics
If you’re new to the newsletter world, no worries! They’re an easy concept to understand (but a tricky one to master).
Essentially, church newsletters are publications that inform readers about current events in and around the church. Most churches pass out their bulletins during the service, but email newsletters allow members to receive church news wherever they are.
Church newsletters go by many names, some of which you may have heard. These include:
- Church bulletins
- Church magazines
- Church newspapers
- Church publications
What should church newsletters include?
The content in your bulletin should vary based on your church and its current events. Start with these essential building blocks for your church newsletters:
- News – Focus on spreading the word about past, current, and upcoming events in and around the church community.
- Itinerary – Most church newsletters include an itinerary for the week’s service, including songs and scripture passages that will be read.
- Genuine Photos – The best church newsletters include candid, genuine photos of members laughing and worshipping.
- Contact Information – As a part of every publication you send, include an email address, phone number, and mailing address in case your current or potential members need to get into contact with you.
Once you’ve established a solid foundation, experiment with other content. To grow your repertoire of content ideas, visit our church letter basics guide.
Who should write the newsletter?
Designating who does what for your church newsletters is an important step in the process. Doing this ensures that one person doesn’t get stuck with too much work. Plus, the more people who get involved, the better! Everyone involved will feel responsible for the success of the publication, encouraging them to do their best work.
When setting up your newsletter’s timeline, use this as an outline for delegating responsibilities:
- Church Administrators – Church administrators should be in charge of setting publication dates and working on the logistics of distributing newsletters on time.
- Pastors, Ministers, Preachers – Every so often, pastors should contribute articles to the newsletters, guiding congregants through passages or sermon themes.
- Staff and Leadership – The majority of the content for church newsletters should come from staff and leadership.
- Church Members – Include the words of your church’s members from time to time. This ensures congregants feel appreciated.
Change up the author every once in a while. You’ll find that readers will be much more engaged when viewing a new perspective.
How long should the church newsletter be?
You want enough content to inform readers but not so much that they quit reading. Depending on the platform, vary the length of your church newsletters based on the following suggestions:
- Email newsletter length – Keep it between 500 to 1,000 words. To do this, cut out extra words (but not images!) and minimize your paragraphs to 1-4 lines.
- Paper bulletin length – As you’re putting together your paper bulletin, keep in mind that it should be 2 to 3 pages at max. If you have more to say, print on both sides of the paper.
Whether it’s online or on paper, consider breaking up articles into columns (like newspapers do) to make it easier to read. To reach the largest audience, experiment with both a paper and a digital version of your church newsletter.
When and how should you distribute the bulletin?
Now that you know how to write the bulletin, it’s time to focus on handing it out.
First, you’ll need to assess your audience size. Since larger churches may run into the issue of having too much to report too often, consider sending out weekly or biweekly publications.
By that same logic, smaller churches may have fewer updates to report and therefore might only need to send out a monthly newsletter. They may only have enough to fill one bulletin per month, but that one publication is sure to garner some attention!
Then, consider how much information you’re including. More in-depth articles necessitate thorough research, writing, and editing time. To include top-notch content in every newsletter, you might find it best to stick to a monthly schedule.
On the flip side, if you’re merely posting quick updates and upcoming events, saving everything up for a monthly newsletter may be overwhelming. Instead, crank out a weekly newsletter highlighting each point.
Finally, determine the best means of distribution. Start with a paper copy to pass out during the service and try to create one each week. For members who weren’t able to attend the service or those who tuned into your online live stream instead, send out an email newsletter and/or mail a physical copy to their homes. Remember, you’ll reach the largest audience if you employ a digital and a physical strategy together.
Consider segmenting your church members to send different communications to different groups. For example, older congregation members may prefer to receive physical bulletin copies in the mail, while younger members typically prefer email communications.
You can even use your direct mailings to add a fundraising element to your communications. Check out GivingMail’s church fundraising letters guide, as well as their direct mail options, to find out the best way to request gifts through the mail.
In any case, make sure you actively promote your church newsletter. Rely on greeters to pass out each week’s church newsletter. Then, update your email subscribers and remote participants with what they need to know.
For more tips on engaging congregants, explore our tips for church communication.
Church Newsletter Tips and Best Practices
Church bulletins are made up of several components. From the design to the content itself, each element must work together to capture and garner church members’ attention.
Like we mentioned, church newsletters are easy to understand but difficult to master—especially if you’ve never actually written one before. So that you can effectively kick off your efforts, let’s review several key church newsletter tips.
Writing a Church Newsletter Tips
The content of your newsletter should be your first priority. When crafting your bulletin, consider these tips:
- Pick an Objective for Each Letter. The most effective church newsletters have a clear purpose (like informing readers or telling a story).
- Perform A/B Subject Line Testing. Using comprehensive email tools, compare your open rates (the percentage of people who open your newsletter emails) for different types of subject lines. Pinpoint what resonates best with your congregation.
- Use A Personal Tone in the Copy. Aim to be informative while also being somewhat informal and conversational. Think of it as a conversation between a church leader and a member.
- Draw Attention With Formatting. If you have particularly important points you want to emphasize, draw attention with bolding and italics. Do so sparingly, though.
Your church newsletter is a great opportunity to promote your text-to-tithe number. If you’re sending it via email, include a link to your church’s giving page too. All the hard work your staff puts into constructing your bulletin each week may spark a feeling of generosity.
Designing a Church Newsletter Tips
Once you have stellar copy, you’ll need to focus on organizing it and presenting it in an enticing way. Remember, human beings are visual creatures. Follow these effective design tips when pulling together your work:
- Craft a Header With a Logo. Your newsletter’s header is one of the first things your readers will see. Make it count. Properly brand it with your church’s logo, colors, and readable font.
- Create Subheadings. Make your newsletter more scannable by adding headings and subheadings throughout. This is also a great way to break up the copy.
- Stack Content for Mobile Users. Chances are, many of your readers will be opening your church newsletters on their phones. Stack your content vertically to make sure it’s viewable on mobile devices.
- Split Up Text With Images. Balance out large chunks of important text with meaningful photos to drive the point home. After all, a picture is worth 1,000 words.
Remember, visual appeal plays a large part in reader engagement. If it’s difficult to read, congregants won’t stick around for long—no matter how well-written it is.
Check out what the experts at DNL OmniMedia have to say about nonprofit web design. Maybe you’ll get some inspiration for formatting your church newsletters.
Once you’ve taken the above church newsletter tips into account, take a few extra steps to promote readership. Start by outright encouraging both existing and potential members to subscribe to your email newsletter. To start, pass around an email sign-up sheet at all of your church events and watch your subscription list grow!
Then, add a social media sharing button (or two or three) to your email newsletters. This is great for spreading the word to those who might be interested in joining your church.
Remember, you can stare at analytics all day long, but nothing is quite as helpful as honest feedback from readers. Every once in a while, send out a brief survey to gauge readers’ opinions. Then, act on the results.
When members see that you’ve incorporated their feedback into your church newsletters, they’ll be far more invested in your publication. People appreciate knowing their voices are heard. Best of all, having an open dialogue with your members means they’ll be more engaged across the board.
Church Newsletter Ideas to Excite Members
Once you get into the swing of producing church newsletters, you’ll need to change up your approach every so often to keep members interested.
To fully engage readers, start by establishing consistency with these church newsletter tips:
- Inspirational Quotes – Email newsletter subscribers love a good quote they can walk away with. Use a site that produces applicable quotes. Then, choose a monthly or weekly quote relevant to the current sermon series.
- Scripture of the Month – Highlight certain passages so long as they fit the sermon series’ themes. You can also include particularly poignant passages in light of recent events.
- A Message From the Pastor – An important part of every church newsletter is a short message from the pastor, preacher, priest, or other church leadership.
- Topics of Inspiration – Church members may look to your bulletin for words of comfort or inspiration. Include short, uplifting passages in your newsletter.
When you establish consistency with your bulletin, readers will look forward to reading your publication every week (or month). Who knows? Maybe one of the above church newsletter ideas will be their new favorite segment!
Freshen Up Your Content
Once you’ve established some consistency in your church newsletters, try shaking things up! You don’t want to bore congregants with the same content in each publication. To keep persuade them to keep reading, consider the following:
- Give Video Content a Whirl. Visual content—videos especially—is a great engagement tool. The best email newsletters feature videos of pastors addressing the congregation and image highlights from church events.
- Conduct a Panel Interview. Instead of sticking to the same old interview style, mix it up! Conduct a panel of interviewees (or interviewers) and ask an array of questions to get the most well-rounded responses.
- Host a Content Contest. Nothing excites people quite like a bit of competition. Encourage congregants to come up with the best content they can. Reward the person who creates the best newsletter content ideas by featuring them in your next publication. A holiday-themed photo contest is a perfect example.
Pro Tips for Modern Church Communication
Here at Snowball, we’ve learned which communication strategies work and which don’t. Through our careful research, we’ve found one method is growing increasingly popular: technology.
As society grows more and more reliant on technology, you need to adjust your strategies accordingly. Specifically for church newsletters, digital methods are especially valuable.
Start by experimenting with your layout. One design style may work for a while but will eventually become monotonous and uninteresting to readers. To freshen up your bulletin, try out these tips:
- Select A New Layout. If using a template, there may be several built-in layout options. Play around with them until you find one that adds some more life to your church newsletter.
- De-Clutter Your Content. Nothing is quite as distracting as chunky blocks of text without images to break them up. Cut down on the number of lines per paragraph and the number of paragraphs in each article.
- Update Your Calls-To-Action. A call-to-action is the specific sentence, link or button directing readers to complete a specific action—like making a gift online or signing up to volunteer. Update your calls-to-action at least once a month to keep readers clicking on them and following through.
Modern fundraising is all about adaptability. To expand your fundraising potential, check out our overview of online fundraising.
Email Software for Church Newsletters
Once you modernize the bulletin itself, transition your focus to your distribution methods. You’ve learned that your best bet is to create a physical and digital version, but how can you do this without spending excessive time doing so? Simple: use email software! Email software allows you to:
- Send Emails in Bulk. As your subscriber list grows, you’ll find it more difficult to trigger your newsletter manually. Make sure your email platform allows you to send out as many emails as you need without tipping off spam filters.
- Find an Array of Templates. Remember, it’s important to update your layout. Many email software providers offer templates. Make sure they offer the variety of options your church wants.
- Schedule Your Church Newsletters. It’s nice to be able to rely on a service to automatically send out your bulletin. That way, congregants know exactly when to expect it to appear in their inboxes.
To fulfill your unique needs, ensure that your email software allows you to do all of the above and more (like including intuitive giving buttons). This enables you to quickly distribute your well-designed newsletters.
Analytics for Church Newsletters
After using your email software to distribute your church newsletter, review the key analytics it provides. Analytics are an important part of modern fundraising. They enable you to optimize the reader experience!
To promote readership, make sure you’re tracking these metrics:
- Clickthroughs – If more people clicked on certain types of content within your article, you know to continue writing that type of content. Use this information to shape your future church newsletters.
- Delivery Rate – Calculate this by subtracting the number of “bounced” emails from the total number of emails you sent. If your average delivery rate is lower than 95%, clean up your mailing list.
- Forward Rate – The more people who forward your newsletter, the more exposure your church gets. Include a call-to-action with a trackable link to forward the church newsletter.
- List Growth – Get into the habit of checking the number of subscribers you have at the end of each month. If your subscription list is expanding, you know that you’re on the right track.
To learn more, head on over to this overview of the different analytics all nonprofits should be tracking. Make sure to pay special attention to the email analytics section!
Fundraising With Church Newsletters
Church newsletters can do more than just provide updates on church events. They can also encourage donations from your generous members. Remember, once readers see all the work that’s going into the bulletin, they may want to reward your dedication.
Specifically, here are a few easy donation tools (which Snowball can help out with) to promote via newsletter:
- Email donation buttons – Email giving buttons allow your church’s members to give without leaving their inboxes. They’ll select the amount they’d like to give and confirm their payment.
- Text-to-tithe numbers – Text-to-tithe is a modern way for congregants to give back. All they need to do is text your church’s phone number, follow a link, select their preferred donation amount, and press send!
- Online giving portals – Online giving portals can propel your tithing efforts forward. From crowdfunding to tailored online donation forms, the possibilities are endless!
Remember, don’t let supporters’ generosity fade. Take charge by featuring your fundraising tools in your email newsletter!
To sum up, church newsletters play a major role in capturing your congregants’ attention. From boosting event attendance to growing funds, bulletins have the power to completely transform your church.
It all starts with well-written copy, informing readers of the most up-to-date happenings in your church. When drafting your church newsletters, focus on conveying the most important messages while making sure they’re visually compelling.
Remember, you’ll be missing out on a great opportunity if you’re not funneling digital readers to your online giving platforms.
To establish a solid strategy, expand your tech toolkit. The right digital fundraising tools can substantially boost the impact and value of your church newsletters as you develop and improve them. Specifically, look for tools that are easy to use right out of the box and can adapt to your church’s specific needs.
To continue your research, explore these other useful posts:
- The Essential Guide to Text-to-Give. Text-to-tithe is a powerful source of revenue for churches. Review the essentials and provide congregants with a new way to give back!
- Church Fundraising Ideas: 25+ New Ways to Fund Your Ministry. Churches need to take extra steps to generate funding. Explore these effective fundraising ideas for churches of all sizes.
- Church Fundraising Letters: An Essential Guide. To raise money, churches have to constantly try out new fundraising methods. Find out how to craft an effective church fundraising letter with this guide.
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