Who Threw the Donor Off the Bridge?
"Not I," said the program director. "Sure, I'm for creativity and all that, but the work we do is so important. We need to tell the donor everything we do in great detail. I know it's a lot to read, but what the donor really wants is information, right?"
"Not us," said the social-media team. "The donors love us. We tweet and post and pin all day every day. We're engaging people all over the place. We've got thousands of likes to prove it."
"Not I," said the development director. "Attrition is making our file dwindle, but acquisition is too expensive. Besides, our board demands better results in every fiscal cycle. So with fewer donors we have to keep our costs low."
"Not us," said the board of directors. "These things they want to put in the mail are just not sophisticated. We don't want to talk down to our donors. At the end of the day, what matters most is that we comport ourselves with dignity."
"Not I," said the charity watchdog. "I rank all these nonprofits by the same cost-to-program ratio. That's only fair, isn't it? What do I care about lifetime value or long-term strategy? All I know is that if an organization invests too much in a given year, they won't look as good on our pie charts."
And so it went. The strange and terrible thing was that every word the fundraisers said was true. And everyone was truly alarmed about the donor's demise. And yet, there she remains, floundering in the water. Soon she'll be gone. So, who threw her off the bridge? And more important, who will rescue her?
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.