Willis Turner

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.

Sugarcoat it all you want, but offering premiums in an acquisition campaign is, essentially, bribery. And pretty unsubtle bribery at that.
You’re saying to a prospect, “Look, I’m afraid you don’t care enough about my organization’s work to support it out of 
passion or principle, so I’ll offer you this trinket to try and buy your loyalty.”
The dilemma is obvious. You’re going to have much greater loyalty from people who support you because they believe in your cause. But those premiums sure can bring in more donors. At least in the short run.
To a development director, the promise of the premium can be very alluring. For a relatively small investment in mailing labels or tote bags or whatever, you can reasonably predict that significantly more people will respond to your mailing.

It’s often been said (by me, anyway) that empathy could do more good in the world than war and peace put together. That’s especially true in the world of fundraising, where you’re trying to get people to give you money, and you’re giving them nothing in return but a warm feeling. After all, it’s how people feel, not what they think, that determines their behavior. So how do donors feel? It’s a simple question, but the answers can be very complicated and contradictory. We’re talking about human nature, after all. It might not be easy to know what donors care about, but

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.

Well, we’ve got webinar No. 1 under our belts. I was a nervous wreck, even though my part was very small and, by virtue of the nature of webinars, I didn’t actually have to face anyone as I did it. Nope … it was just me, my hard candy and my stress ball, listening as Robin Riggs, Willis Turner, Steve Maggio and Kimberly Seville educated and entertained our audience.

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