6 Ways to Motivate Donors
You can’t argue with physics. Isaac Newton’s first of law of motion is that an object at rest will stay at rest unless it’s acted upon by an outside force. The law is immutable and applies to people as well as objects … including donors and prospects.
Your job is to be that outside force — to put your donor in motion, emotionally and physically, so he or she cares about your mission and cares enough to make a gift. Fortunately, you have a whole host of tools at your disposal to help you lift, pry, shove, compel, jostle, elbow, convince, arrest, inspire and motivate those who read your appeals into action.
1. Make the reader notice your outer envelope. At the Engage Conference in April, I got into a discussion with several people about whether to use a teaser on an OE. It’s a good topic, but you have to make sure the reader sees your package to begin with. There’s a lot of competition in the donor’s mailbox, so every now and then you need to step beyond that No. 10 white wove envelope. That could mean using a compelling teaser; sometimes it’s an odd-sized carrier or a bright color. But if donors don’t see your letter, the game is over before it’s begun.
2. Compel the donor inside. This is where the teaser (or not) comes in. Sometimes a blank OE creates enough curiosity to drive people inside. The most important thing to remember about a teaser is that it has to tease — not tell the reader what’s inside the package. A photo of a sad child and a teaser like, “Please help her find a place to sleep tonight,” tells the reader all she needs to know. There’s no reason to open the package unless she is predisposed to give. On the other hand, “What’s the one thing she’ll need most tonight?” can create enough curiosity to give you a chance to make your case in the letter.
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.