Direct mail

Published on July 2, 2014 by

Why did your tax appeal do so badly… or so well?

Now that June 30 is over and charities are tallying up their results, it’s time to debrief.

Were you well over target, right on or did you raise less than you hoped? Whatever the case, it’s crucial to debrief on why you got the result you did.

So, what if you didn’t reach your appeal goal? Try to resist the urge to blame others. It’s time to take a closer look at what went wrong – and apply those learnings to future campaigns. An appeal is really only a complete failure if you refuse to learn from your mistakes.

If ...

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Published on May 23, 2014 by

What bad fundraisers don’t understand about long copy

This year, I’ve taken on several new clients. And I’ve found myself having variations of the long vs. short copy discussion with all of them except one.

What surprised me was some of them were working with other consultants before me. So I thought they would not be averse to trying long copy to lift income and/ or response. Not so.

Here’s the “I’m-going-to-fight-you-on-this-even-though-I-know-little-about-fundraising-and-we-desperately-need-more-money” version of the discussion.

ME in meeting to discuss upcoming appeal letter: “Now how would you feel about doing a four-page letter?”

CLIENT: “I HATE long letters! I/ my wife/ the chairman ...

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Published on May 14, 2014 by

Beware! Are your EOFY appeal letters as good as these?

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen the first of the EOFY appeal envelopes arrive in my mailbox.

The verdict?

I’m impressed.

Aside from my own clients, I support several non-profits. In previous years, they’ve had – shall we say – rather lacklustre direct mail.

But several have really lifted their game this year. Improvements include:

1. Very well crafted propositions – specific rather than generic offers I’d really be interested in giving to.

2. Very good use of story – these non-profits seem to have actually gotten someone out there to interview beneficiaries. Rather than plonking in a ...

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Published on April 8, 2014 by

Could you too get a $200,000 major gift?

Last week I called a client to clarify something about an upcoming tax appeal. During the conversation, he informed me a major donor had just made a gift of $200,000 to the current appeal we had worked on together.

This gift, he said, had the office high-fiving and whooping with joy. I have to admit I, too, was very excited for them.

This $200,000 windfall represented a significant proportion of the income budgeted for the year for this charity. In other words, they’re not a multi-million-dollar non-profit.

BUT… I wanted to point out a few lessons about this particular gift. ...

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Published on April 2, 2014 by

The 3 biggest issues I’m seeing right now with 2014 tax appeals

Sorry to all for not being more regular with posts but I’ve been working very hard on several tax appeals – possibly even yours!

One thing I find very interesting. Sometimes more attention seems to be paid to haggling over minor phrasing than to issues that will actually make the biggest difference to appeal results. Hence this post.

The issues causing me the most concern as I try to get the best possible results for clients are these:

1. Getting appropriate stories and images

For some reason, people seem to think that getting beneficiaries or field workers to say nice ...

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Published on December 23, 2013 by

Don’t repeat my mistake when planning for next year

In a nutshell, here is the lesson.

If you’ve got the funds, spend it.

The reason I say this? It’s easiest if I explain by sharing a story of one my direct mail successes. It also happened to be one of my failures.

I once wrote an acquisition piece for a very small non-profit. It was inserted into a variety of publications and did exceptionally well.

When I say exceptionally well, it recruited 392 new donors (doubling the existing database). Income was almost $29,000. The cost was under $20,000.

Given most fundraisers will say you almost always lose money on ...

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Published on December 18, 2013 by

Have you ever made these 5 response-killing copy changes?

Last week I received a Christmas appeal I’d written in the mail. I opened the envelope then pulled out the letter and coupon. And my heart sank.

As a copywriter, I may spend hours putting blood, sweat and tears into an appeal pack. (And I’m not exaggerating about the tears – some beneficiaries have gone through horrific things.)

Then I receive the mailed pack with changes that I know will at best reduce response. At worst, it will make the appeal fail.

This doesn’t happen to me often because I encourage my clients to consult me if they wish to ...

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