My three and a half year old son registered for Junior Kindergarten. Inspired by the earnest communication style of Mason’s new teacher, here are some simple rules about creating engaging, dynamic and meaningful direct response copy.
#5: Show AND tell. Use stories, testimonials and eye contact to illustrate your message. Stories connect us to each other and allow your donor to be imaginative. Your job is to create an integrated appeal so that your story fits with your case. Express your feelings, not your policies and procedures manual.
#4: Tell the truth. No fibbing! Changing someone’s name or tweaking the chronology of a story to be a bit more compelling is one thing. Inventing “new” programs for the sake of fundraising is dishonest and dangerous. Can you set your clock to your “funding crisis” appeal? Are you using weasel words about how funds will be used? Quit it!
#3: Wait your turn. You are not the centre of the universe. When you are sending a fundraising appeal, are you saying something fresh? Or are you sending something out because your schedule says you should? If you’re treating your direct marketing program like an assembly line your disinterested intentions show through. You sound as uninspired as you feel.
# 2: Treat others as you want to be treated. The golden rule, people! If you send a clumsy, rambling letter with a reply card that you need a magnifying glass to read, why are you surprised when no one gives? Would you like to receive that? Don’t assume that your donors will continue to give to you if you are not making a genuine effort to connect with them.
# 1: LISTEN. The real golden rule in fundraising. Your donors care about your cause. They want to hear how together, you are making a difference. Does your letter contain more references like “on behalf of” and “our mission statement”, than it does “you” or “your gift in action”? You are talking like an organization, not like a person. And if you are lucky enough to have them speak back to you…listen. LISTEN!