Craver, Mathews, Smith & Co.

And the Winners Are...
September 1, 2007

Wow! Who ever thought the Gold Awards could be so exciting? The sun was setting on judgement day, and we had a tie for Package of the Year. A first! So, I polled our four judges — Steve Froehlich, director of development analytics at the ASPCA; Tim O’Leary, vice president of McPherson Associates; Paul Bobnak, director of North American Publishing Co.’s Who’s Mailing What! Archive; and FS Senior Editor Abny Santicola. After some soul searching and spirited debate, they weighed in: two for one package and the other two for the other package.

Blogging for Personality
January 9, 2007

In the struggle to retain donors, nonprofits need to use the full arsenal of tools that are available to them. Blogging is just one more way for a nonprofit organization to reach the community of people that are interested in its cause. Nonprofit guru Roger Craver is founder of Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit and advocacy marketing agency Craver, Mathews, Smith & Co. and co-creator of the blog The Agitator. He says he enjoys blogging because it forces him to stay up to speed on the latest research and trends in the industry. The Agitator covers areas nonprofit professionals should be thinking about

The Brochure Legend Lives On
June 1, 2005

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?
April 1, 2005

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.

No Such Thing as a Free Donor
March 1, 2005

Puzzled about why your online donors aren’t renewing? Simple ... they’re different, those donors who give online. For a time, prevailing conventional wisdom was that a donor acquired online is most likely to renew online.

And the great hope was that online donors would be so much cheaper to re-solicit because we wouldn’t have to spend money on postage and printing and production … we could just e-mail them!

At Long Last, I'm Now the Target Audience
March 1, 2005

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
November 1, 2004

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
May 1, 2004

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?
March 1, 2004

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
January 1, 2004

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.