Most charities send out a newsletter with some regularity. Probably one of the most common elements to a newsletter is the needs list, where you will find everything from the need for new computers and office supplies to the need for toilet paper and diapers. Needs lists are a great way to communicate with your donors and volunteers what in-kind items you need. But, I think they go beyond just a simple ask and get relationship.
A good needs list will also tell a story about who you are serving. Donors will read your need’s list and make judgments about who you are requesting these things for.
For example, when I ask for toilet paper, sleeping bags, and new socks for the homeless, it tells you something about who we are serving. These are very basic necessities, things that the average person takes for granted. It makes you stop and think about whoever this is that doesn’t have access to these necessities.
Take for instance this list of needs I pulled from a local charity. Can you guess what type of organization this is?
- Formula (Good Start, etc.)
- Baby food (meat, vegetable, fruit)
- Baby wipes
- Apple Juice 100%
- Boppy pillows and pillow cases
- Latex Gloves
- Canned Fruits, Vegetables, Soup
- Children’s Tylenol
- NIX lice treatment
- Snacks (zero trans fat crackers, dried
- Fruit, fresh fruit, muffins, bagels)
This is from the Sacramento Children’s Home. But I bet I didn’t have to tell you that they worked with underprivileged children and babies.
A good newsletter is about telling the story of the people your donors are helping. It’s about telling a story in which they, the donors, are the hero who is coming in and rescuing the abandoned children or whoever it is you serve. The needs list isn’t just about getting the things you need. It’s also great tool for telling the story.
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