Back in the ’90s, when I was editor of [FundRaising Success sister publication] Target Marketing, this strange thing called the Internet turned up on my radar screen. I did not understand it. In fact, nobody understood it. For one thing, with the dial-up modem, downloading was s-l-o-w. Investors fell in love with it and pumped billions of dollars into startup companies that promised to capture millions of “eyeballs,” and a large percentage of those eyeballs would turn into paying customers or cause advertisers to spend money. “The only bank that takes eyeballs,” Bill Bonner, brilliant founder and proprietor of the sprawling Agora Publishing empire,
Ed note: In last week’s edition of his snarky e-letter, Business Common Sense, direct-mail pundit Denny Hatch weighed in on the online political fundraising. This article is excerpted from that; to read the whole article, click here. The campaigns of Hillary Clinton and, especially, Barack Obama have discovered the Midas touch in terms of milking political Web junkies for cash. It looks as though they will go down to the Denver Convention in late August having spent zillions to bash each other, and very possibly destroy the Democratic Party’s chance to win back the White House in what should be a slam-dunk election. How
The horrific tsunami in the Indian Ocean late last year brought instant and gratifying responses from myriad governments, private donors, the military and nonprofit organizations from around the world. Among them was Oxfam America.
Oxfam America was founded in 1942 by a group of Quakers, social activists and Oxford academics who called themselves the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief in response to the plight of refugees in Greece.
Direct mail is the only advertising medium that enables the sender to create a personal message. I did not say “personalized” — as in having the recipient’s name plastered all over the place, such as with return address labels or on a sweepstakes entry form. In this instance, “personal” means that the letter writer can make an intimate and emotional connection with the reader. As freelance copywriter Bill Jayme said, “In direct mail — as in theater — there is indeed a factor at work called the willing suspension of disbelief.”
One of the truly inspiring stories of the past century is that of a Lebanese boy named Muzyad Yahkoob. Born in 1914 in Detroit, he grew up to become legendary comedian and television star Danny Thomas, as well as the founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
“You need a streak of outrage. You need a sense of injustice. Without outrage, I don’t know how the hell you can do this work.” — Roger Craver, of Craver, Mathews, Smith & Co.to Denny Hatch, 1993 Since its founding in 1961, Amnesty International has saved more than 50,000 lives — potential victims of murder, torture and execution by some of the nastiest regimes on earth. Considering what’s happening in the Middle East, Africa and even here in the United States, this organization’s work will never be done. If I had to pick one organization for which Roger Craver’s words are apropos, it
When I started the cranky little newsletter, Who’s Mailing What! (now Inside Direct Mail) in 1984, I persuaded America’s premier liberal democratic fundraiser, Roger Craver, of Craver, Mathews, Smith & Co., to write a three-part series on the opposition — the then-current republican efforts that were superb in terms of elegance, sophistication and power. Craver wrote:
High in the pantheon of elegant fundraisers is Mothers Against Drunk Driving, whose only business is public education.
This, in opposition to many charities that only claim it’s their business. A particularly egregious example occurred during the early 1990s, when Somali poachers were decimating herds of elephants (and occasional tourists who got in the way) in neighboring Kenya and selling the ivory.
In the last issue, we examined the masterful “thank-you” mailing from Disabled American Veterans that featured patriotism and guilt as the copy drivers. This time, let us look at a long-running control from the World Wildlife Fund that sticks five sharp knives in the reader’s gut — fear, guilt, anger, greed and salvation.
What’s more, this renewal effort (that also is used in acquisitions) is a model of simplicity. For all the razzle-dazzle, high-tech printing and production techniques available, it often is the simple printed letter that packs the biggest wallop and costs the least in the mail.