Donor communications

Published on April 13, 2016 by

When NOT to copy the competition

When NOT to copy the competition

Last week, I got an email from a client sending me a direct mail sample from another charity. She suggested we do something similar. I opened up the sample… and did a facepalm. It was not the most terrible piece of fundraising communications I’ve ever seen… but it broke all the rules of effective direct response. And not in a good way. The problem is the client thought it was good simply because their much bigger competitor did it. ...

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Published on April 6, 2016 by

A thank you letter for EVERY donation? Really?

A thank you letter for EVERY donation? Really?

A client asked me last week whether you need to send your donors a thank you letter after EVERY donation they send in. Because the donor admin department doesn’t want to send gift acknowledgements and thank you letters after each gift. “It’s much more efficient to just send one annual statement at the end of the financial year. We save money and it’s much less hassle.” So let’s think about this. ...

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Published on March 16, 2016 by

June’s Jargon Watch

June’s Jargon Watch

As a copywriter, I hate jargon!

Yet jargon crops up in fundraising appeals, direct mail, donor newsletters, websites… and just about anything else written for donors!

So I’ve decided to start a regular spot on my blog called June’s Jargon Watch. The aim will be to highlight these atrocities of the English language. And also suggest how they could be rewritten so the donor – and the average person – can actually understand them. ...

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Published on February 23, 2016 by

How your simplest offer pulls record donations

How your simplest offer pulls record donations


If your appeal results aren’t so hot, one of the first things to look at is your offer.

Charity J, one of my clients, had the best Christmas appeal for over 5 years – up on the previous year by 25%.

And I put it down to one thing (and the client agrees).

A simple offer.

What was most surprising about it was that I didn’t have to suggest it. I didn’t have to get the fundraising staff to wrangle with programs and field staff over whether the offer was “representative” of their work.

And what was this offer?


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Published on October 21, 2014 by

51 fundraising words and phrases that should DIE, DIE, DIE!

In my last post, I had a rant about jargon in charity communications.

This was after an evening of reading appalling non-profit comms copy. And I promised a list of every single weak or jargonish word or phrase I found. Here it is below.

Arranged alphabetically, these are taken from the charity newsletters and direct mail of 11 different organisations.

May I implore you to cast these out forever more from your copy. Your donors will enjoy reading your mail more. Truly.

  1. Access (education, training, clean water)
  2. Accessible
  3. Address
  4. Awareness raising
  5. Brighter future
  6. Capacity
  7. Capacity building
  8. Change attitudes
  9. ...

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Published on October 9, 2014 by

6 income boosters for your Christmas appeal

With Christmas appeals in the works, here's my list to push up the dollars you raise.

1. Your core messaging does NOT include “changing lives” or “transforming lives”. This is a pet hate of mine. See why here. I see it so frequently that I’ve made it No. 1. (Although I will concede the very, very occasional only use of these phrases for brevity.)

2. Send donors more than one communication. I always recommend more than one Christmas direct mail appeal pack. One DM appeal plus a reminder. A DM appeal and a ...

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Published on July 3, 2014 by

Will your donors trust you – even after a scandal like this?

I was initially outraged by this case. But it highlighted some important questions about donor relationships.

If you keep up-to-date on non-profit news then you’ll probably be aware of a $24.6 million settlement involving a US veterans charity and their fundraisers.

You can read about it here and here. But it basically involves the charity paying lots of money to its fundraisers and never getting an acceptable return on that investment. The upshot is that very little of the funds raised ever went to veterans.

(Experienced fundraisers know that you often lose money on acquisition of new donors ...

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