It might give you the opportunity to give Jeff Brooks' new book your undivided attention (as long as you're not driving, that is). It's called The Fundraiser's Guide to Irresistible Communications and a whole load of useful information is packed into its 143 pages.
If you read a few fundraising blogs, I won't be the first person to recommend this book. So I won't dwell too long on what it offers, but it includes...
A guide to:
- What works in direct response marketing
- Your role as a fundraiser
- Who donors are and how their brains work
It also includes:
- Useful tips on improving response
- Insights into successful writing and design
- Admirably clear and easy to read. Jeff practices what he preaches.
You may not take me up on the suggestion of reading the book on a journey. Regardless, the book will take you to a pretty great place, where hopefully you feel proud to be a fundraiser. And lucky. And equipped to fundraise well.
Anyway, I'll move on to Jeff's one-day presentation on Monday, which was called 7 Ways to Raise a Lot More Money.
A great deal of the advice features in the book, but as you can see, there were quite a few things I noted down.
I won't leave you to decipher my scrawl, though. Here are some highlights.
'A big typeface is the admission price into your donor's head'
Designers are often young. DM donors are usually older. Young designers don't always appreciate how hard their work is to read. A big typeface may not look pretty but it's effective. A few other useful reminders: go for a Serif font for mail, a Sans-serif on screen, avoid reversed out copy or anything other than black on white. All of these techniques are proven to improve readability.
'Fundraising is based on authenticity'
'Do not contradict your message'
Take a look through your latest appeal. Ignore the words. What are the photos telling you? Jeff pointed out that photos in DM pack often contradict the message of need that has been painstakingly written into the letter.
'I like it has no relevance'
When you're looking at fundraising appeals and ideas, trying swapping 'I like it' with consideration of whether it will raise money. As a fundraiser, it's likely you know far more about your organisation that your donors. You'll have tired of messages that donors are only just catching onto. And the bottom line is: a lot of people don't like fundraising that works!
'Fundraising thrives on variety'
Once you've mastered DM techniques, there's still room for variety. Jeff talked about envelopes. A hand-written stamped envelope is generally best. But you can try with or without a logo. You can alter sizes. Try a teaser or an image. This applies to other parts of the pack too.
'Donors like a good deal'
Jeff's book has plenty of useful information about how to craft a good call to action. But I especially enjoyed the reminder on using leverage. Or giving the donor a good deal. Here's an example. A development charity has medical supplies that need to be shipping. By covering the cost, your gift of, say, £10 is delivering £100 worth of life-saving equipment.
'Direct mail isn't dead. It's not even sick'
Do it right and DM still works really well. Also, many of the same techniques translate well online.
One last thing...
The one piece of advice I've been having the most fun with is to write to a US grade 6 reading ability. Not because you think your donor can't make their way through War and Peace, but because they're not reading a novel. They're reading a piece of DM and it's best to make it easy.
Turns out this is 6.1. And I did have to change the style I normally use for this blog.
Have a go with your latest appeal copy and see how you fare.
PS If you read the book, you'll know why I've written a PS and why this isn't a very good one.