7 Copywriting Blunders in Direct Mail Fundraising
Creative direct mail can be an effective means of fundraising for your organization, but it has to be approached a certain way. You can't just sit down and write a letter requesting donations -- that's the best way to get your message sent through the shredder. Approaching individuals and organizations to request money is a subtle dance that needs to be executed smoothly and intelligently if you want to maximize your results. And just as with any dance move, one of the biggest keys to success is avoiding mistakes.
The list of faux pas found in direct mail copywriting to raise funds is far too long to list here. But you can avoid a fatal blow to your creative direct mail campaign by crafting fundraising copy that avoids these seven common mistakes:
- Copy that doesn't connect to the organization and its mission.
So you're trying to raise funds. Great. But does your letter inform readers of your organization and its goals? Don't assume that the recipient is familiar with your organization. Even past donors might be turned off by what seems like a generic letter. As you write, make sure the tone of your copy fits the tone of the organization, its mission, and -- most importantly -- your reason for fundraising.
- Failing to clearly "ask" for a donation.
Need money? Don't beat around the bush. A teenager might employ that strategy when trying to squeeze a fresh $20 from his parent's wallet, but a mature fundraising request won't be shy about its intentions. A fundraising letter should be clear regarding its goals and make the request for a donation on the first page. If you bury your request or don't make it explicit, some recipients may miss the point of your letter entirely.
- Writing with an inconsistent or vague message.
Don't let your copy meander off-topic or get so broad that it becomes vague. Illustrate your need, state your request and stay on-task throughout the letter, as well as every other piece of your direct mail package. Inconsistency or vagueness will only confuse or otherwise distract a potential donor, and it could cost you.
- Failing to emotionally inspire the donor to take action.
Prospective donors love being cast in the role of hero. Keep the focus of the request on them and their capacity to help. It may feel a bit melodramatic to lift up someone who hasn't yet given you money, but when you're trying to acquire donations, there's no better way to inspire someone to take action.
- Failing to list additional donor benefits.
Heroism is attractive, but every bit of incentive counts. Think about what your organization has to offer and how a donor might respond positively. Whether it's memberships, personal encounters or other opportunities, show donors how their lives- and the lives of others - will be changed through their contribution.
- Watering down your appeal.
If you're passionate about your organization and its mission, make sure that comes through in your copy. Don't try to water it down with a professional front and an efficient, bland appeal. Wear your heart on your sleeve and put yourself out there to win donors over.
- No easy, accessible response device.
After you've asked for funds -- and the donor has decided to contribute -- you need to make the donation process as easy as possible. This aspect needs to be considered before you draft the letter: How will you accept donations? Choose the path of least resistance for the donor. Whether that's online donations, self-addressed return envelopes to send in a check, or both is up to you.
If you can avoid these mistakes in a creative direct mail campaign, you'll have a good head start on an appeal that meets its fundraising goals.