Willis Turner

Willis Turner

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.

8 Tips to Help Prospective Donors Enjoy Your Letter

If we’re not careful, taking such a clinical approach can distract us from considering our readers’ overall experience of the package they receive. Here are a few suggestions to help you stay mindful of your readers’ feelings.

Have You Tested These 5 Assumptions Lately?

Testing is about the most basic best practice we have in direct marketing. It’s how we measure what works and what doesn’t. In fundraising, it’s critical because if there’s one lesson we’ve all learned over and over, it’s that direct mail is counterintuitive. Logic and common sense do not apply. Except when they do.

6 Tricks for Copywriters to Minimize Interruptions

A copywriting colleague used to keep a folder he called, “The Graveyard of Good Ideas.” He filled it with half-thoughts, messy-concepts and opening lines he’d been in the middle of when he suddenly had to take an important phone call. Or respond to an email. Or stop because the boss stuck his head in the door and needed something urgently.

How to Write Power Stories, Part 3

It’s a wonderful feeling when something you always thought was bad for you turns out to be good for you. Take the use of pseudonyms in fundraising stories. There’s a widespread presumption that using made-up names for real people is a necessary evil...

How to Write Power Stories, Part 2

Our stories have to engage readers on such a powerful emotional level that when we transition from them to the ask, readers feel compelled to take an action or make a gift. Like a still-life painting or a well-written haiku, archetypal images set a scene for readers in just a few words...

How to Write Power Stories, Part 1

We all know telling a good story engages readers and gets them emotionally involved so that they feel compelled to send a gift to your organization. But simply being advised to “tell a story” is pretty empty advice without some concrete guidance about what kind of story to tell and how to tell it.

Can You Fake Caring?

When a writer struggles to develop an emotional connection with an organization, the problem might not be the mission.