Agent Jen Love is firmly a 21st century digital gal. But I have an unexplainable predilection for Titanic references. No, I’m not talking about “I’m the king of the world”. I mean the real Titanic. The big boat. That sunk.
Here are 5 reasons I have a daily reason to reference the Titanic as a fundraiser:
1. “Polishing the silverware on the Titanic”. Other writers (and designers) will join me in lamenting endless requests to perfect grammar, force the mission statement into a sentence where it really doesn’t fit and turn real, engaging direct response copy (it should be conversational and…gasp…that does include contractions and sentence fragments) into robo-org-speak. If your letter, telemarketing script or e-blast doesn’t tell a compelling story, make an interesting offer and have an irresistible call to action, you’re polishing the silverware on the Titanic thinking that your mission statement and perfect grammar will be your lifeboat.
2. “Turning the Titanic”. We all know what happened when that fat bastard couldn’t turn quickly: crash, gush, panic and pandemonium…glunk. Does it take you 2 weeks to get your marketing department, your ED, your board chair and a handful of “advisors” to look at your campaigns? Why? Do they add value or add water (and waste time)? Can you move quickly to respond to a news piece perfectly aligned with your cause, and connect (multi-channel, of course) with your donors on a dime? Why not?
3. “Women and children first”. You don’t need a fancy data audit to recognize Jane Donor: the 60-something woman who we all imagine when we write our direct mail letters. If you’re writing direct mail (or responsible for approving it), please remember that you’re not writing to a hipster 25-year old. But speaking of hipster 25-year olds…how are your e-appeals and social media strategies coming to try and connect with younger donors to replace dear old Jane in the coming years?
4. The gurus said it was “unsinkable”. Take a hard look at your gurus: are your direct marketing gurus helping you create unique, authentic and meaningful ways to inspire your donors? Or do your gurus treat you like they know everything and that you shouldn’t challenge them? Seriously, think about your gurus. And here’s an even harder question about your sink-ability: how’s your institutional ego? Do you feel entitled to a high renewal rate, a good acquisition response rate, a high conversion to monthly giving even though you don’t have fresh content or an interesting offer? Expect growth every year when you aren’t doing anything different? Think you are unsinkable?
5. Iceberg Philanthropy. Fraser Green’s ingenious way to get charities thinking about legacies. Your direct marketing file is an iceberg. You see lots of donors giving small gifts…but what lies beneath is boatloads of money available through legacies. What’s missing? You investing the energy, time and money to create a meaningful legacy marketing
I challenge you to take one titanic teaching and apply it. Today. So, you can either: resist the polish, consider your turn-ability, use multi-channel fundraising that fits your “Jane”, be honest about your sink-ability or think about your iceberg.