FOCUS ON: LISTS Feeling Exhausted? Your prospecting lists — and you — can get a much-needed pick-me-up with an influx of nams from commercial files.
Commercial copy abounds with talk of benefits the prospect will enjoy from replying. The same rule applies for nonprofit copy. A benefit is an aspect of a product or service that improves the buyer’s life. What benefits can a fundraising appeal offer to a potential donor? Here are a few: The donor will feel good about himself, get a tax break,participate because it’s the right thing to do, counter the effects of a sudden emergency, carry on work consistent with his values, make a difference in someone’s life, obtain a premium, and so on. Some of these benefits areintangible, so it’s good when you can translate them into something material.
Commercial copy immerses the prospect in the product experience. It conveys ownership through
emotional triggers and specifics. A donor should feel involved in your mission. How can she participate, beyond writing a check? Bring her into your efforts. Explain the vital role she plays in personal, attention-getting terms. Make her a passionate partner in your work.
People make buying decisions with their emotions and justify them with reason. Given a choice between appealing to the intellect or to the emotions, emotional appeals win hands-down. Commercial and nonprofit direct mail overlap in using vivid, emotional copy.
The great motivators are described as greed, guilt, fear and exclusivity. Anger is a staple of
nonprofit copy. Guilt (or the fostering of a conscience) is practically a given for any letter seeking to do good work. Fear, too, is a powerful prod (“These terrible things will happen if you don’t act now … “). Exclusivity flatters a prospect, painting him as part of a select group that recognizes the importance of your mission.
Talk in human terms
Good commercial copy focuses on the prospect, not the product. We sell to people, one at a time. We relay human-interest stories and anecdotes. The same is true in nonprofit copy. Show the effect of donors’ dollars; find the human drama in the policies you’re lobbying for; describe the cost of failing to act now in human terms. Whether the funds are for a new building, a protected piece of land or research to find a cure, pull out the human story.