Who Threw the Donor Off the Bridge?
The poor nonprofit donor. So compassionate. So generous. All she wanted was to help others and be appreciated for her kindness.
Yet here she lay, struggling in the deep water, fighting for breath, praying for someone to notice her and care enough to reach her.
Meanwhile, on the bridge above the troubled water, the fundraising community looked down in pity and alarm. "How could this have happened?" the fundraisers said, wringing their hands. And they all looked at each other accusingly. "Who did this?" each person asked in turn. "Who threw the donor off the bridge?"
"Not I," said the postal agent. "I was in D.C. adjusting raising postage rates at the time. Yes, I understand the cost of mailing is high and getting higher. And spiraling postage inhibits how effectively organizations can reach out to their donors. But it's not my fault their results are down. Besides, can't you see I'm drowning too?"
"Not I," said the copywriter. "I was trying to hold the donor close by writing emotional packages full of components that motivate her to give. But then so much of the emotion gets watered down in the approval process. Besides, it's too risky to stray very far outside the box."
"Not I," said the art director. "Budgets are tighter than ever, and there's only so much I can do with two colors and a No. 10 envelope. Besides, everybody says they want to see something different, but then they complain, 'Oh that's too different.'"
"Not I," said the production manager. "My resources are limited, my deadlines are tight and my vendors won't negotiate. Besides, I was at the printer when it happened."
"Not I," said the account executive. "The stakes are high so we have to stick with what we know will work. Testing is expensive, and experimentation is risky. Besides I already know the client won't go for it."
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.