Published on October 14, 2014 by

Are you guilty of fundraising copy from hell?

I settled down with a big pile of direct mail one evening last week. I’d gotten a little behind in reading it all.

So I sat on my comfy couch. I opened the first envelope. Newsletter. Oh goody. This was a new charity I’d donated to so I wanted to know what they’d been doing.

Until I scanned the first article which had these phrases (meaningless jargon bolded):

“long-term, integrated community development projects”

access to life-changing programs to empower people”

Ah no, I’d just entered copywriter’s hell.

So I opened another envelope. Newsletter no. 2.

The ...

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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 September 9, 2014 by

Test yourself: What’s an envelope teaser’s main purpose?

Choose one only.

A. To let people know what’s inside

B. To create a positive expectation for what’s inside

C. To reinforce your brand

D. To reinforce your campaign message

E. To get the envelope opened

So what did you pick?

Did you go with A, C or D? Then I’m guessing you’re a CEO or a communicator rather than a fundraiser. (By the way, you can be a great communicator and a bad fundraiser. But generally speaking, you can’t be a great fundraiser and a bad communicator.)

If you ...

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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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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 June 25, 2014 by

Only 5 days to go! 10 last-minute suggestions for your EOFY emails

I’ve spent a good part of the last few weeks writing emails to support direct mail appeals. As part of this, I pulled together a whole lot of results from various email campaigns – both my own and others – from various sources.

I’ve found a lot of results have been contradictory. I suspect this is the case for several reasons. These include how the donor email address was acquired and different levels of donor engagement. The quality of email content. What else the donor has been receiving via email. The list goes on.

So I provide the following list ...

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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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