The Volunteer Newsletter Guide - Tips, Tricks, Step-by-step guides, and Examples! | Track It Forward

The Volunteer Newsletter Guide - Tips, Tricks, Step-by-step guides, and Examples!

Written by Kasey Murphy

Volunteer newsletters have become increasingly popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, but many organizations have also done volunteer newsletters prior to the pandemic. Volunteer newsletters are a great way to engage with your volunteers on a regular basis, give them an opportunity to sign up for volunteer opportunities, and to stay involved with the organization. 

A great way to retain volunteers is to make sure they feel involved and a part of the organization. Volunteer newsletters can absolutely do this! Some volunteer coordinators actually feel as though a volunteer newsletter helps them organize their thoughts and opportunities throughout the organization. 

A volunteer newsletter can basically be a way for a volunteer coordinator to put all of their many thoughts on paper to share with the volunteers! And, if a volunteer newsletter can help promote volunteer engagement and retainment - we think you should give it a go.

Below we have created a full guide to volunteer newsletters, as well as the option to download some very real and incredible newsletters we have gotten from some volunteer coordinator friends. 

How to Get Started With Volunteer Newsletters

A volunteer newsletter can take a lot of time to create, especially if you opt for the longer volunteer newsletter idea! So, be sure you are making time for your volunteer newsletter, especially at the start. It usually takes about 3-4 times of writing a newsletter for it to become a habit! 

If you are a person who already knows what they want to put in their newsletter, this section is for you! Logistical steps might seem a little basic, but for those who aren’t sure how to send out a newsletter, this is for you! 

The Logistical First Steps To Writing Your Volunteer Newsletter

  1. Think of what you might want to include in your volunteer newsletter. (We can help you with that below) 

  2. Decide how often you would like to send the newsletter. (Weekly, monthly, quarterly?)

  3. Create a volunteer newsletter group in your email platform with all the emails of the volunteers you would like to include. Make sure this is a good newsletter design platform, too! 

  4. Pick a creative name for your volunteer newsletter!

  5. Send a preliminary email to your volunteer base letting them know of the newsletter, how often it will come out, and what they can expect from it. 

  6. Design your volunteer newsletter, send it out, and ask volunteers what they think! 

If you don’t know how to even get started writing your volunteer newsletter, or you want to optimize your current volunteer newsletter, read below! 

But, before you write your Volunteer Newsletter, you should think about the following questions! 

Questions To Ask Yourself In Order To Start A Volunteer Newsletter
What will your volunteers want to see from your newsletter? What information do you want to give your volunteers? How quirky is your volunteer audience? Do you want your volunteers to have a call to action in the newsletter? How do you want your volunteers to feel after reading the newsletter? Do you want your newsletter to be educational, fun, informative, leisurely, engaging, or a combination of these?

Each of these answers can help provide a base starting point for directing and creating your newsletter. Let’s explain. 

What will your volunteers want to see from your newsletter? 

This question is to help make sure you deliver what your volunteers might want. Think about questions you often get that could be answered in a newsletter or even just some things you have noticed volunteers struggling with. 

This could be an event calendar with volunteer events, an update on the organization, and a goal you are reaching towards, or even just an introduction to different employees or volunteers to feel more sociable. 

What information do you want to give your volunteers? 

Now, this is something that you find yourself repeating often and really just want your volunteers to know! You can be a bit selfish with your volunteer newsletter and use it as your platform to talk to all your volunteers at once. 

This could be a new hour log tool you are using, a survey you would like to be filled out or even showcasing an updated volunteer orientation! 

How quirky is your volunteer audience? 

This question is important to set the tone for your volunteer newsletter. If your organization is quite a serious one, then it might not be a good idea to add games or puns into your volunteer newsletter. But, if you’ve noticed that your volunteer audience needs a bit of loosening up or might enjoy a volunteer newsletter as a fun pick-me-up, give it to them! 

Volunteer newsletters can include fun games, promotions of local events, or even something unique like a weekly cocktail recipe! If you have room, you can add something quirky and uninvolved with your organization to help bring a fun external experience to your volunteer newsletter. This will help allow volunteers to look forward to your newsletter for multiple reasons! 

Do you want your volunteers to have a call to action in the volunteer newsletter? 

If you want to see volunteer participation in your newsletter, you can add a call to action! This means something that your volunteers do in reaction to the newsletter. 

This could be something fun in your volunteer newsletter, like finding a hidden icon in the newsletter and whoever responds first gets a prize or something serious like needing them to sign up for your new volunteer software system. 

If you want your volunteer newsletter to have a call to action, you can easily make the call to action at the center of your newsletter! 

How do you want your volunteers to feel after reading the newsletter? 

This again is a great way to set the tone for your volunteer newsletter. If you want them to be motivated to sign up for events, come back to volunteer, or more involved in the organization - this should be your focus in the newsletter! 

Do you want your newsletter to be educational, fun, informative, leisurely, engaging, or a combination of these? 

Your volunteer newsletter can include a multitude of things that help persuade the tone of the volunteer newsletter! 

Decide what you want it to be, and read in the next section to see what you can include to make this happen! 

If you’ve already started your newsletter, or you would like some examples to look at from real volunteer organizations, click here!

What To Include In Your Volunteer Newsletter 

You volunteer newsletter can include so many things! From basic necessities to fun add-ons - here are some examples of what you can include in your newsletter. 

DIFFERENT THINGS TO INCLUDE IN VOLUNTEER NEWSLETTERS 

Educational -A quick lesson in something your organization focuses on.
 
E-modules or quizzes that educate on an issue the organization is concerned with.

Fun -Crossword puzzles
 
Unrelated material - a funny video
 
Advertising of a

Educational Volunteer Newsletter Inclusions

These inclusions will be in hopes to train or have your audience gain knowledge. This is a great practice if you have seen your volunteers wanting to learn more about a practice or the organization that they are supporting. 

Ideas: 

  • Record a webinar on your organization’s layout. 

  • Showcase a video of a charity you donate to or a national organization that you support. 

  • Design e-modules or quizzes and link them in the newsletter. 

Fun Volunteer Newsletter Ideas 

These fun ideas usually are how you can make your volunteer newsletter quirky. These can oftentimes not have much to do with the volunteer program or organization at all! 

Ideas: 

  • Crossword, regular puzzles, sudoku, hidden message games

  • Funny videos, memes, or photos of your organization or on the internet! 

  • A fun recipe, or an idea of a “gift bag” drop off where volunteers can exchange treats. 

Informative Volunteer Newsletter Additions

Similar to educational, these inclusions will help inform the volunteers about something important that you either would like them to know about, or something particular to the organization. 

Ideas: 

  • Showcasing your event calendar for volunteers to sign up for and the links for a sign-up. 

  • Sharing reports on organizational goals or volunteer program goals - think pie charts, bar charts, etc. 

  • Employee spotlights - inform the volunteers of new fulltime staff, or awards that employees might have received! 

Leisurely Volunteer Newsletter Ideas 

Similar to fun, these volunteer newsletter inclusions might have not too much in relation to your organization, but they can be something that people look forward to and is a bit relaxing or doesnt involve much effort.  

Ideas: 

  • A leisurely activity suggestion - books, podcasts, movies. Then ask people for feedback - then on the next newsletter you can showcase the feedback of the movie or book prior! 

  • Write an article like a magazine article on something within your organization - maybe a history fact! 

  • Photos and videos of the organization, or a video compilation of people saying messages to each other! 

Engaging Volunteer Newsletter Inclusions 

The engaging volunteer newsletter ideas are something that you hope a volunteer does and completes, not just reads. These could be engaging with each other or with the organization! 

Ideas: 

  • Trivia questions - you can ask questions and give a “prize” for the first correct answer emailed back. 

  • Volunteer spotlight - if a volunteer reaches a volunteer hour milestone or is starting a new project, shine some light on them! 

  • Sign-Up or Log Hours - have volunteers complete a fun survey and at the end ask them to log hours - incorporate your call to action in a fun way! (Do a crossword puzzle where all the words are log, your, volunteer, hours, please).

We hope some of these ideas are unique to you! If you would like to see more things to include or how people have created volunteer newsletters with these, download our Volunteer Newsletter Example Book.

Volunteer Newsletter Tips

We know writing a volunteer newsletter might be hard, and it might be hard to be creative too! So, we have gathered some tips from our Volunteer Coordinator Resource Community on Facebook. Here’s what we got, plus some tips that we added! 

  • If you have a volunteer who likes to write, have them help you and consider it volunteer hours!  

  • It doesn’t matter how long or short your volunteer newsletter is - make it your best and you can always switch it up! 

  • Create a running document of things you find yourself repeating to different volunteers, or things you need to inform volunteers about in your next newsletter. 

  • “One thing I did while we were sheltering in place was find a different science quiz each week that I would send out (we're a science museum). They would let me know their score and they were entered into a raffle for a $10 Amazon gift card.”

  • Virtual parties to catch up, you can send the dates out in the newsletter! You can also make these themed!

  • “We then had a short T/F quiz for them to submit. Everyone who submitted had their name entered in a drawing for a gift card. Easy way to provide ongoing education.”

  • “This week I sent them an invitation to like us on social media. If I have no news about our organization, I'll sent links to research on COVID or any social justice info. Educational resources are good, too. Anything to keep them engaged so they don't wander off.”

  • “One idea I've used in the past is to have volunteers log in and update their profiles, as a way to keep them engaged. Then I know they're seeing their dashboard, opportunities, and will hopefully begin a shift to have more and more volunteers self-schedule (when applicable).”

  • Write a story about a member of your organization who has a personal attachment to your organization’s mission - or even someone who has benefitted from your organization. 

  • Send Volunteer Statistics of the month. 

Download Examples of Volunteer Newsletters

We have gathered volunteer newsletters from a group of great volunteer coordinators. There are examples of different organizations, volunteer newsletters of different lengths, and different tones! 

To get these volunteer newsletters, download our Volunteer Newsletter Example Book below!