Sustainability Education

December Newsletter

The most effective newsletters aim to educate, not sell

December 8th, 2016


I've now got enough sign ups to justify a newsletter.......... I hope you both enjoy it!

Why send an email newsletter?
There is a lot said and written about e-news, with varying opinions on content, format, frequency, analytics and so on. Some say keep it plain text, some say make it colourful and clickable. Others give you 15 newsletters they love. The brilliant people at the Do Lectures even offer a dedicated one day workshop. Get it right and your newsletter can ‘transform your business’; get it wrong and you’re off the Christmas card list; it is a minefield. But this, it seems, is the golden rule: ‘the most effective newsletters aim to educate, not sell.’ So, with that in mind, my working title is 'Educe'. Here goes:

Risk and philanthropy
Next week I start a new part-time role as Co-Director of The Glacier Trust. In preparation, I've been reading up on philanthropy, especially risk and philanthropy. Your target funders have a relationship with risk, understanding what it looks like will help you frame your appeal effectively. People give to good causes because they care about them. In giving to your cause, they are risking their time, money, reputation and emotion on you and your project. They are backing you to succeed. Some are happy to take high risks. They’ll give you a lot of money to do something that just might work. Actually, they might only fund more high risk, experimental projects believing that the situation demands creativity and rapid prototyping. Others will be more risk-averse, they’ll give you a lot of money too - but only if your solution is tried and tested.

The relationship philanthropists have with risk depends on their knowledge and experience. Venture capitalists might, for example, be willing to take higher risks. This risk and philanthropy report argues that philanthropists need to reflect on their relationship with risk and your relationship with risk. NGOs often have different ways of operating compared to the public bodies or businesses philanthropists are used to. NGOs can therefore appear more risk-averse, or risk-taking; even if, in reality what they are doing is perfectly reasonable. This is due to something called anchoring bias. We have a role to play in helping philanthropists to better understand the risks we take, so that they can understand the risks we are asking them to take. This means being transparent about programme design and programme management. If possible, it also means involving your donors in programme design and management too.

Committing to quality
I attended a two day meeting of the Global Environmental Education Partnership in October. It was great to meet educators from all over the world. What impressed me most about the GEEP is the commitment it makes to quality. Creating content that is interesting and useful is an absolute must for the GEEP. People will not engage with ventures like this unless they are attracted to its outputs. If they encounter a poorly produced GEEP output and have a bad experience, it will be hard to entice them back - once bitten, twice shy. A well thought through, properly funded and skillfully implemented content strategy will help the GEEP gain followers and credibility. This then helps build the influence and reach the GEEP is seeking to achieve its goals. Here is how the GEEP is making its commitment to quality. It is a commitment we all need to make. 

Six principles of Sustainability education
Three months ago I left Keep Britain Tidy and the Eco-Schools programme to start afresh as a freelancer. This gave me some time to reflect on what makes great sustainability education. Here are the six principles that guide my work.

Thanks for reading, feedback much appreciated!

Best wishes,



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Dr. Morgan Phillips
Sustainability consultant -
Co-Director -
Associate Director -
Volunteer -


Twitter: @morganhphilllips
Mobile: 07967 828 063


I work with schoolsbusinessesNGOsresearchers and lifelong learners. Please get in touch to find out how I can help you with strategy, fundraising, programme management and teaching. My blog - sustainability education in 300 words or less - is a look at key issues in the design and delivery of sustainability projects.