Don’t be Afraid of Making a Promise
Folks who do direct mail fundraising for nonprofit organizations can -- and should -- take a lesson or two from commercial copywriters. Among them is the use of the guarantee.
Practically every piece of commercial direct mail carries some kind of guarantee, yet what can a nonprofit letter offer? If the donor doesn’t like what we do with his money, we’ll refund every penny?
Hardly. But you can adapt the guarantee to offer another kind of protection that reassures the donor his money is put to good use. One way is to tell how each dollar will be spent -- what it will buy, what it will be used for -- so that the donor is “guaranteed” that the cause for which he pledged money will get it.
Showing a clear, specific result of a donation connects the donor to the cause and gives him an emotional stake in your work. Offering a statement of your finances is another method.
“Our reply form details below each dollar amount on the gift string the number of meals that the donation will provide,” explains Thomas Daubert, manager of marketing and communications for God’s Love We Deliver, a New York City-based nonprofit that prepares and delivers fresh, nutritious meals each day to people living with AIDS and other serious illnesses in the metro area.
Direct mail packages from Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres, an independent international medical-aid agency, include the organization’s expense ratios in each mailing so donors see where and for what purpose their money goes, according to Fiona Walsh, marketing director at MSF.
Robert Lerose, a freelance copywriter with 20 years’ experience, specializes in direct-response advertising. He can be reached at (516) 486-0472 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.