Don’t undervalue regular communications with your fellow members
An internal unit newsletter, whether it’s a digital or print format, is a great way to inform members on what’s happening in your local American Legion Auxiliary. This regular source of communication can act as a central document that includes important information, upcoming events, and access to your unit’s social media platforms. Messaging all of these resources in one place can cut down a member’s time spent looking for these materials. Having a strong unit newsletter connects your members to the overall mission of the American Legion Auxiliary.
Below are pointers in providing a successful newsletter for your unit members:
STUCK ON LAYOUT/DESIGN? USE A TEMPLATE
National Headquarters provides an extensive cache of marketing and public relations resources for members at www.ALAforVeterans.org. Included in that mix is an ALA-branded newsletter template available in Microsoft Word. This easy-to-use format allows you to plug in photos, event/activity details, and other miscellaneous content. The template’s design is flexible, meaning you can arrange it however you’d like.
CONTENT: WHAT GOES INTO OUR NEWSLETTER?
Think of this unique-to-your-unit publication as an opportunity to keep everyone in sync and show an example of the ALA’s brand. The messaging you want your unit members to receive should be the main focus. Start by explaining the most important information and events you want members to know. Think of the newsletter as a large news medium — the big story should always be first, followed by the secondary story, and so on. Include all upcoming volunteer opportunities and future events to give members the chance to participate in any ALA mission-oriented activities. Adding that information to a monthly community calendar in your newsletter is a great way to keep everyone informed, organized, and involved.
Be sure to include all essential details from any previously conducted meetings to ensure your members are up to date. As an added visual element, consider incorporating photos of your unit serving the mission. Think about the fun, non-business stuff too — celebrate your members by listing birthdays and ALA anniversaries.
These days, everyone is strapped for time. To retain members’ engagement, keep the newsletter to two to three pages. And if you have the space, consider publishing educational pieces, such as a monthly how-to, on topics like inviting potential volunteers to unit activities that serve the ALA’s mission.
DISTRIBUTION: WHAT WORKS FOR YOUR UNIT?
A digital — or email — newsletter is the simplest and most cost-effective method to reach unit members. Start by creating an email list of everyone in your unit for distribution, and don’t forget to save the list for future mailings. If sending the newsletter via a personal email account presents limitations (e.g., spamblockers, full mailboxes, etc.), with your unit, invest in an affordable email service like MailChimp or Constant Contact. Some services even offer a nonprofit rate. If you must snail-mail a hard copy newsletter, ask your postmaster about a bulk mailing rate, which might be an option on cutting costs. But consider postage and printer fees in the long run, as well as members’ news delivery preferences and the modern means of communicating – how can your unit migrate toward a fully digital version of its regular newsletter with members?
We’d love to see what’s going on in your local Auxiliary! Add National Headquarters to your unit’s mailing list by emailing us at ALAMagazine@ALAforVeterans.org. Content produced for national ALA media is often developed from activities published at the unit level.
This article was first published in the February 2020 Auxiliary magazine.