Get Busy! Fundraising Can't Wait
"Right now, all I want is to get my lights turned on," the woman said to the nun. The woman had snapping black eyes and sat perfectly erect in her chair across from the nun's desk. She was small and thin, but not the fashionable kind of thin. Her stream of black hair was carefully combed but had lost its luster.
The nun turned to me. "Being poor is complicated," she said. "She," gesturing toward the woman, "grew up dirt poor but was working her way into a pretty decent life. This is very hard because when you start where she started, you first have to work your way up to where the 'level playing field' just begins for everyone else.
"She had done that. She had a decent job and just made a down payment on a trailer. But then her mother died. A week after that she was diagnosed with cancer.
"Now, you can see how small she is from being undernourished as a child. So the chemo is too much for her. She stays so sick from it, she can't work anymore. Now she's got nothing. The side panels are falling off her trailer, and one of the windows is broken. And now the power company has shut off her lights."
The nun was small too. But driven, intense and full of energy. She had agreed to let me sit on a few interviews so I could better understand the needs at the organization we were raising funds for.
She talked fast, as if she needed to get you squared away so she could hurry on the next person who needed her. Which was true. The waiting room was full, and it was clear this interview was talking longer than she wanted.
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.