The Best Practice Blog-Driven Newsletter Formula

Nonprofits love their emails newsletters and for good reason! Your email list holds your most committed supporters, and it feels so good to communicate with them!

But does your blog languish at the cost of putting out emails? Does your website feel stale and hasn’t been updated in two months?

Despite the benefits of a good email newsletter, too many nonprofits ignore their websites while pouring all their energy into newsletters. At best, some organizations post PDFs of their newsletters as “blog posts”, despite all the problems with PDFs on nonprofit websites. It doesn’t have to be this way!

If you blog first and share those posts in your newsletter, you get more engagement on your website while still producing a vibrant newsletter. It’s literally twice the results with the same effort.

(If you have WordPress, you have a blog)

You might not think of your website as having a blog or yourself as a blogger. But it does, and you are!

Your “blog” might be labeled “News” or “Announcements” or “Updates”, but whatever you call it, your WordPress website has a page devoted to showing all your Posts—capital “P” as opposed to “Pages”—in chronological order. That’s a blog!

Some people get turned off by the word “blog”, but don’t let that scare you away. For the purposes of this article at least, “blogging” is just regularly publishing new material to your site about news, events, your impact, media coverage, and whatever else is new and exciting at your organization. If you have the capacity for an email newsletter, you have the capacity to blog.

Infographic: Power your newsletter with blog posts

Now that you’re sure you have a blog, here’s the magic formula:

  1. Post engaging and bite-size articles to your blog.
  2. For each newsletter, pick your best posts (even 2 or 3 is enough!) and link to them in your newsletter.
  3. Add a custom welcome message or something else exclusive to the newsletter. You want to make sure your newsletter subscribers still feel special.

Executed correctly, this format is engaging and primarily assembled with writing you already have!

Diagram: Three blog post snippets in a newsletter link back to the blog posts on your website.

The Benefits of Blogging First

If you’re not sold yet, making this change comes with all the benefits you get from following blogging best practices.

While many email newsletters are just digital versions of a formerly printed product, blogging is the publication medium of the web. That means it’s more user-friendly, engaging, and future-proof! Plus, doing it this way is simply a best practice among nonprofit professionals.

Start Today!

While it might take a few months to get used to this new workflow, this formula only requires a bit more effort than you already put into your newsletter while powering your blog, social media, and newsletter all at once! That’s a huge win and will surely expand your reach and quality of your communications.

Not sure what to write about? Here are 11 ideas for nonprofit blog posts to get you started!

Once you make the change, you’ll have a hard time ever seeing why you did things the other way around. So stop reading and go get blogging! (And then emailing. 😉)

Make a Social Timeline on Your Nonprofit’s WordPress Blog Without Storify

or: How I Learned to Stop Using Embed Codes and Love Embedding Videos, Tweets, and More!

It can be hard to continually write good content for a website or blog. One effective-yet-underutilized type of content is curated social media posts.

You might have seen these on other websites before. They’ll be a series of well-chosen tweets, Facebook posts, and other social content used to tell a story or present different viewpoints on an issue. These can be your posts, other peoples’, or a combination of the two. Done well, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

These “social timelines” are often built with Storify. Storify allows site owners to embed stories on blogs, but here’s a huge secret: in most cases, you don’t need Storify to make a social timeline on your WordPress blog!

WordPress Embeds

WordPress has an amazing feature that lets you embed lots of social media sites directly in the WordPress editor simply by pasting the social post’s URL onto its own line. So if you post this in the WordPress editor:

You’ll get this:

I’ll wait for you to finish watching 😊…

What Sites Can I Embed with WordPress?

There are a few sites that sadly aren’t embeddable right now like Pinterest and LinkedIn, but most sites you’d want to embed are supported. I bet there are even a few sites you didn’t know you wanted to embed until just now!

  • Social
    • Facebook*
    • Twitter (Including Timelines and Moments)
    • Instagram*
    • Tumblr
  • Video
    • YouTube
    • Vimeo
    • Vine
  • Audio
    • SoundCloud
    • Spotify
  • Documents
    • Slideshare
    • Issuu
    • Scribd
  • And More!
    • Kickstarter
    • WordPress! Yup. Any recent WordPress site should be embeddable!

That’s not even the whole list! Here’s the list of supported “oEmbed Providers” as of September 2020.

Unfortunately, embedding Facebook or Instagram posts now requires using a plugin. Learn more about that change. The easiest solution is to enable the “Shortcode Embeds” module of the Jetpack plugin.

Getting the Right URL

For each site, make sure you get the URL of the specific thing you want to embed. Sometimes that can be a little tricky.

  • For Facebook and Twitter, click the time/date of the post to go to the right page.
  • In Spotify, you “Copy Song Link” from the song’s menu.
  • For WordPress sites, just make sure you’re looking at a “single” page and not the Blog or other multi-post page.

Example of a WordPress Social Media Story

To give an idea of why I think this is so awesome, I thought an example would be useful. Here’s a quick story I threw together about my dog!

I’ve embedded content from my business’s WordPress site, Facebook, Spotify, and Instagram!

In November 2015, I got my first dog! His name is Neko. He’s named after one of my favorite singers, Neko Case. (Yes, our boy dog is named after a woman whose name means “cat” in Japanese!)

Neko Case happens to sing a lot about animals. [Spotify embed]

Neko had a rather unfortunate run in with a dog just after we got him. [Instagram embed]


It took him a while to get used to the bandages! [Instagram again!]


But he recovered like a champ and is back to walking these days! [Instagram video! (made with the Boomerang app)]


What Will Your First WordPress Social Story Be?

The possibilities are nearly endless. You could do a roundup of your Tweets from the past month, catalog social media reactions to an event you put on, or just share your favorite cat pictures!

Ask questions or share tips from past successes and failures in the comments!