Updated copy or Frankenstein copy?
There's a fine line between updating old copy with new information and creating "Frankenstein" copy that no longer maintains a unique voice or case for giving — thus creating a monster, Manes said.
You muse treat each letter as a new letter to avoid creating this monster, not just plug in updates. Manes cited a mailing he received that had multiple fonts and multiple sizes of fonts on the second page of the letter.
"It's so important to read the letter after updates are made and make sure it looks clean and flows in a natural way," he said.
The rise of "pre-approved copy" is a huge pet peeve of his as well. Manes said it only encourages Frankenstein copy and turns every appeal into a monotonous, unauthentic piece that is indistinguishable from the last.
Test a high-impact 'budget shortfall' mailing to loyal donors
Practically every organization goes through a period where it isn't in position to meet its fundraising goals. If you are not going to make your revenue goal, don't be shy about telling a select group of your donors about your predicament.
"Lots of organizations want to hide from donors that they didn't meet their goals," Terpstra said. "In certain situations, let them know you didn't meet your goals and explain the impact that has on your mission and beneficiaries — it could help you shore up that gap."
Terpstra provided the example of St. Labre Indian School. It came up short of its budget, but instead of hiding that fact, it admitted that to its loyal donors and mailed a budget-shortfall appeal to them. The opening read:
"This is one letter I had prayed that I wouldn't have to write. But you are one of St. Labre's most dedicated friends, and there is simply too much at stake for me not to share with you what is happening."