Background Estonian Rheumatism Association is an umbrella organization for 13 smaller organizations all over Estonia. As an user-led organization most of our member organization leaders are volunteers and have a daily job to attend. Over times the biggest problem in the organization has been communication and information sharing. In order to solve this problem among our approximately 1000 members the management team came up with an idea of publishing e-newsletter in autumn 2010. To this day it has been a successful project and we have managed to keep on publishing every month.
Objectives Our objectives have developed over the year. In the beginning it was important to share this information with our members, but now we have found out that this newletter is a great way to stay in touch with our sponsors by writing about our activities; to keep contact with our supporters by inviting them to different events; to inform our members about new trends in patient care and so on. With our experience doing it the cheapest way without losing in quality, there are some tips we would like to share.
Methods Our editorial team consists of three members: project manager, editor-in-chief and text editor. Layout and design is also done by editor-in-chief. We have tried several design programs, but the easiest is Microsoft Publisher 2010. Cheapest as well, because people using Microsoft Office already have this program. Using this program for designing does not need any special abilities. Watching Youtube tutorials will do the work.
Our newsletter contains five sections:
1. In every issue we have an editorial introducing the most important topics of the month.
2. Short summary of activities is written by different members participating in events.
3. Interesting health topics are written by specialists like rheumatologists, therapists, pharmacist, nutritionist etc.
4. Introduction of our member organizations.
5. Other advertisements and invitations.
All articles are written from good will and for no money. It needs just a little bit more advance notice and negotiation skills. We have chosen nature-friendly and again cheaper way to forward the publication to our readers. With the help of our homepage and Facebook profile we can easily share it online. We have created an e-mail list where people get the newsletter directly.
Results First of all it is important to set the goal and target. In the beginning our target was only our members. Now our newsletter is also read by our supporters, sponsors, rheumatologists and other patient organizations. The number of readers has grown to hundreds and positive feedback reassures that the project is needed and helps organization altogether develop. We have managed to get the funding from National Foundation of Civil Society.
Conclusions In conclusion for solving communication problems we truly recommend publishing newsletter. Our practice has shown that it takes small amount of money compared to the effect it has on organization.
An example of our newsletter: http://reumaliit.ee/sites/default/files/kuukiri_nr_14.pdf
Disclosure of Interest None Declared