There Are Some Surprise People in Your Fundraising Audience
Goldberg has a long and impressive history as an advocate for many important causes over the years. So a questioner asked her who, among the current generation of celebrities, were some people who were making a difference through their generosity.
Whoopi pondered for a minute, then said, "Well, Justin Timberlake is doing a lot. And Britney Spears. You don't know it, but she is."
There was no collective gasp, but you could tell the audience was surprised. These are not people who wear their philanthropy on their sleeves.
It reminded me that sometimes we can get stuck on fixed ideas about who our donors and prospects are, and what they'll respond to. Our data might tell us, for example, that 85 percent of them are females over 70 years old. So, as good copywriters, we address them in ways that we know touch their emotions.
As we should. But it also means that 15 percent of them are not in that group. They could be anybody, including some very generous people who don't fit the profile.
Thinking about this also reminded me of what my good buddy and major gifts expert Irene Szturo told me one time: that a surprising number-sometimes a majority-of people who left bequests started out as $25 donors.
Of course you should craft your appeals to resonate with the majority of your readers. But you should always allow for the possibility that something great could come from the most unexpected donors.
Just something to keep in mind next time you hear someone dismiss a good idea by saying, "Oh, our donors won't go for that," or, "That's not who our donors are."
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.