It’s in the Cards: Why Lists Matter to Creative
There’s a powerful, woefully underused fundraising wea-pon that should be in every copywriter’s and art director’s arsenal.
It can help you target your creative more effectively, have a better feel for your prospects and, in all likelihood, do a much better job of motivating them to make a gift.
This powerful tool is so simple I can name it for you in just one word: datacard.
If you’re not familiar with them, datacards are the one- or two-page crib sheets your account executive and list broker use to determine which lists to test.
After the testing phase, lists that have proven effective in acquisition become control or continuation lists (i.e., lists to which acquisition control packages continue to be mailed).
Continuation lists can give a writer or art director a lot more information to help shape your creative than you might think.
Say you’re prospecting for a health care group that serves cancer patients. Your account executive and list broker have tested many lists and have established a group of continuation lists to roll out into general acquisition. One of these is the Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter. Take a look at that datacard, which appears here to the right.
Writing to the list
This information lets us do much more than just make the normal assumptions about nonprofit donors. For example, 82 percent of these prospects are college-educated, nearly triple the national average.
That they are predominately female is no surprise to fundraisers, but the fact that 80 percent exercise or play sports regularly sets them apart from the sedentary majority of Americans in their age group.
From a copy standpoint, that tells us at least two things we can use.
First, these prospects are educated enough to want a fair amount of information about the cause. So, in addition to employing high emotion and urgency, we’ll want to give them solid information about the organization — facts and figures to back up what we say.
Willis Turner believes great writing has the power to change minds, save lives, and make people want to dance and sing. Willis is the creative director at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He worked as a lead writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 15 years before making the switch to fundraising 20 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, and collateral communications materials that get attention, tell powerful stories and persuade people to take action or make a donation.