Camels Aren't Good Fundraisers
Although the original source has been lost over time, the maxim lives on: “A camel is a horse designed by committee.” Most likely, you have your own camel story — the fundraising activity that sounded good at the start but metamorphosed over time to barely resemble the original plan — let alone accomplish the original goal.
When it comes to direct-mail and email copy intended to raise money for a nonprofit, adding a camel to the fundraising team is dangerous. In other words, the more people who edit the copy, the less likely it is that the end product will accomplish the original intent. There are three “camels” fundraisers should avoid when possible — and when that’s impossible, at a minimum go on record as being opposed to.
Camel No. 1: The construction crew
The job of fundraising copy is to take the donor from wherever he or she is right now and help that person move to the ultimate destination: giving a gift. This is best accomplished when there are few (or better, no) distractions along the route.
When this camel is allowed to be part of the fundraising team, the route becomes less clear. Your donor will be given multiple off-ramps as he or she progresses through the copy: “If you haven’t already seen our latest video, be sure to go to www.Wow!Let’sCheckThatOut.org” or “If you haven’t already read the article in our latest newsletter, you may want to check that to really understand the impact this project is having in our community.”
Avoid constructing anything that takes the donor’s attention off the need and how he or she can be part of the solution. Otherwise, you may end up at the destination all alone, wondering where on the journey you lost your traveling companion.
Camel No. 2: The protector
Some fundraising copy gets wrapped up in enough protective covering that it collapses under the weight of the armor. Maybe you’ve seen a variation of this note written in the copy margin from your protection-oriented camels: “Well, we really aren’t able to help everyone who comes to our program, so it’s better to say, ‘When you give, you will help us provide various solutions to the segment of people who participate in our programs and have achieved a certain level of commitment to rectifying the situation that has held them back from optimizing their future possibilities.’”
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.