A Frank Opening

I received a mailing from a non-profit organization that counts me among their donors. The letter opened as follows:

“I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your past support. I’m not sure if you are aware, but your last donation was in May 2009 for $20. There is a reason I am sharing this with you.

“During these continued hard economic times, we want to make sure that we are doing everything possible to communicate to you, and all the generous people who have supported our work for almost 30 years, just how much good is being accomplished with your help …”

I admit that I felt a tinge of guilt when I read that opening. Whether I make a gift or not, the fact that the mailing made me feel something is a good thing. These are hard times. Non-profits must go to greater lengths to try to secure gifts, even if it means alerting me to my lapsed giving history, citing month, year and amount.

Continue reading “A Frank Opening”

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Keep Your Eye on the Goal


Drew Brees and the Saints offense. (Ed Schipul/Flickr)

Forgive me, but I’m going to use a sports analogy. Football, to be specific. When quarterback Drew Brees and the rest of the offensive unit of the New Orleans Saints take the field, they have just one thing in mind: score. They are focused on moving the football down the field and crossing the goal line. That’s it. Nothing else matters.

This is the way it should be in marketing and fundraising pieces. There should be a clear goal or purpose. Get the prospect, customer, or audience to do something: visit a Web site, request information, make a donation, pat head and rub stomach, something.

Here’s another key: Ideally, there should be just one goal or purpose.

The last few days I’ve been working on a fundraising appeal that has too many elements. My client agrees, I think, but her internal client is asking for a lot: to direct the audience to a personal URL, to include a separate ask with three other ways to give, to include a bumper sticker in the mailing, and to incorporate a special message that doesn’t appear to relate to anything else.

I struggled with it because, like the Saints quarterback, I wanted to drive toward just one goal: get the audience to click their personal URL, for instance. Instead, it felt muddled, even though I did my best to write a cohesive appeal.