Going for the Gold
This year I was once again asked to judge the FundRaising Success Gold Awards for Fundraising Excellence — something that is both exciting and intimidating. And it's not something I take lightly. According to dictionary.com, a "judge" in this context is "a person appointed to decide in any competition, contest, or matter at issue; authorized arbitrator."
That's a lot of responsibility.
Think about the sheer amount of work involved with creating a direct-mail package or fundraising campaign. There's the brainstorming, the concept, the plan, the outline, the copy, the production, the delivery, the returns, the results, the analysis of the results. Was it a failure? Was it a success? And think about all the people involved.
As it turns out, there were more entries this year than ever before. A lot of organizations and consultants were proud of their work and the performances. That is great news for us as a profession and industry. But as a judge? Overwhelming! How in the heck do you make decisions about so much good work? It wasn't easy.
But two other judges — FS Senior Editor Joe Boland and Paul Bobnak, director of the Who's Mailing What Archive — and I locked ourselves in the 12th floor conference room of FundRaising Success' Philadelphia headquarters. The view was spectacular, but once we started, we never saw it again. We spent the entire day opening envelopes, reading direct-mail copy, e-mail campaigns, telemarketing scripts. The work we saw was phenomenal. You impressed us with brilliant creative (a paper airplane, pet-personalized ornaments). You wowed us with bold risks that paid off (mailing a single sock in an acquisition package — really? Really!). You inspired us with new and innovative multichannel approaches (think "Ghostbusters" and the New York Public Library). You moved us with nothing more than a plain envelope and the simplicity of a powerful story. You made us chuckle, you made our brows furrow and you even made us cry. But it was the results — the results were what was so impressive.