Jerry Huntsinger

Jerry Huntsinger
10 Temptations to Avoid in Acquisition Packages

Temptation No. 1: Starting the project by writing the letter.
Here’s what’s happening: You’ve been assigned to create an acquisition package. You’re up for it because you have a great idea. You feel really good about that idea. You are sure it’s a winner. So you sit down and start writing the letter, right? Wrong. The letter is the very last thing you should create.

"Mommy, Will You Tell Me a Story?"

And Mommy says: “OK, honey. You see, your father and I work very hard to make a nice home for you. We shop for specials at the grocery store, and we’re putting away money for your education, and … “

How to Write Passionate Letters

How to Write Passionate Letters Sept. 27, 2005 By Jerry Huntsinger Passion is contagious. A donor will not catch your passion unless your letter is passionate. And your letter won't be passionate unless you're passionate. You can't fake it. You either feel it, or you don't. So if you've been sitting behind your desk for three hours, functioning like a talking head, with the cool, detached logic of a consummate executive, don't expect to just click on Microsoft Word and start writing passionately. No way. Instead, take your project file with you, and go for a walk. Read it with the fresh

The Brochure Legend Lives On

Ever wonder who started the Legend of the Brochure, also known as the weak little cousin in a direct-mail package?

I just read a version in a recent edition of John Forde’s newsletter, Copywriter’s Roundtable. He told the legend under the title of “Ted’s Accidental Discovery.” The story was very contemporary, and Forde related it as if it were true. Well, maybe he thought it was true.

Is Letter Writing Really About Good Grammar?

Grammar is the curse of direct-mail fundraising — and for several reasons.

First of all, those who sign fundraising letters often have the unfortunate conviction that the words they put on paper to describe their mission rank far above the words associated with selling a product.

So their letters tend to follow what they consider the basic rules of grammar, in order to give them a higher state of dignity than one they might write if they were selling women’s underwear.

At Long Last, I'm Now the Target Audience

This might turn out to be a rant. But you see, I’m getting a lot of fundraising appeals I can’t read because the type is too small, the paragraphs are too long, and the copy is too intensive and technical.

I’m eligible to critique this mail, not because I’ve been in the business for 42 years but because I’m now the target audience.

This Ain't Literature You're Writing

He was an extremely gifted and articulate communicator, a man of passion who, when he was finished with his speech, left you wishing he wasn’t.

So when I drafted an emergency fundraising letter for his organization, I used his words, his phrases, his syntax, his simplicity, his stories. And the letter turned out, I thought, really, really good. It captured both his personality and the mission of the organization.

Oh, Woe to the Wimpy Reply Device

It’s a frustrating nuisance — that pesky reply device. The sorry, little stepchild of the fundraising package. Underutilized. Misunderstood. Occasionally ignored. Treated with faint disdain.

Tradition has it that the reply form was invented around 1924 and evolved via two genetic streams. For commercial mail, it became a dynamic ingredient of the mail package.

Hey, Will You Give a Guy a Lift?

On weekends, I used to hitchhike from Illinois to Kansas to see my girlfriend, and whenever my thumb successfully caused a motorist to pull off onto the side of the road, I would say, quite sadly, “Hey, will you give a guy a lift?”

Today, I’m still looking for a good lift. A good lift note, that is. Something to give my letter a boost. To move it on down the road … (Ever notice how analogies break down when carried out to their logical conclusions?)

Be Persistent, Not Pushy

There’s a reason many charities are reluctant to engage in techniques to upgrade their donors — or fail to do so altogether. Call it the “fear factor.”

They’re afraid donors will get irritated and stop sending gifts. They’re afraid a donor will give the upgrade letter to a board member and complain about the “pressure.”

Be not afraid. I bring you tidings of great joy. Fact: It has never been proven by any reliable statistical measurement that reasonable upgrading techniques will result in a substantial attrition of the donor file.