Richmond, Va.

Willis believes in expressive writing, exceptional fundraising, and exuberant living.

Willis Turner is the senior copywriter at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He was an experienced writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 20 years before making the switch to fundraising nearly 15 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, as well as collateral materials and communications, that get attention, tell emotional stories, and persuade people to take action or make a donation.

It was 10 minutes past the time I was to meet someone in the lobby of the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel during the Nonprofit Technology Conference last month. I wandered through the atrium and took a seat alongside Rick Christ, president of NPAdvisors.com, and explained to him what was going on. “Twitter her,” Rick said. “Twitter her, and ask her what’s up.” I gave him the “blinkies” look — perfected during 22 years of parenting — that says, “What you have just said to me is so ridiculously out of the question that it is nearly incomprehensible.” To his credit, he held

Direct mail can be a challenge, even under the best of circumstances. But despite its difficulties, industry research consistently indicates that, when it comes to funding your mission, direct mail still is the foundation of the most successful donor-contribution efforts. Yet, all too often, CEOs, CFOs and boards of directors don’t really “get” direct mail.

Sure, e-philanthropy is hot, but most nonprofit organizations still rely on direct mail as their fundraising workhorses. And the outer envelope is the wrapper for your all-important ask. It’s the first thing recipients see, feel and interact with.

As such, it requires a well-reasoned strategy that depends a lot on an organization’s mission, target audience and competition in the mail. Something that works for an advocacy group might not be right for a health organization. One thing that worked 10 years ago might still fly, while another favorite tactic could flop. It’s a testing game for each organization.

Can a dozen dogs find shelter in a leather briefcase? They can if the briefcase was purchased through Benevolink.

No, the Atlanta-based company isn’t in the business of selling amazing expandable briefcases. Rather, it allows consumers to direct corporate dollars to the causes of their choice just by shopping online at more than 200 retailers such as Gap, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Harry and David, and Staples.

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