Are your low response appeals “Robin” you of new donors or members?

Do you need to be a superhero in order to acquire new members for your association, or new donors for your charity?

Shine the Light on Your Readers


No, I don’t think you do need to be a superhero.

Just do a super job of shining the spotlight on your readers – your prospective donors and members – instead of on your nonprofit.  And here are eight fundamental tactics to help you do that.

The primary way to accomplish this is to write donor-centric (or member-centric) copy.  For example:

YES: You make it possible to …

NO: Acme Charity does …


YES: You’ll be more competitive for promotion because you stay current reading weekly industry updates from All-For-One Association.

NO: All-For-One Association sends you weekly industry updates.

You ought to boost response even more when you also do a super job with these seven additional fundamentals:

Personalized appeals tailored to the audience.

It’s possible to go beyond the prospect’s name when personalizing acquisition.  Granted you won’t have as much data as in your house file, but work with your list broker and use all that you can when writing the copy.

This topic has been getting attention in blogs lately too.

Examples Showing How Getting Personal With Donors Can Make a Big Difference (from my friend, – Blase Ciabaton)

Messages That Motivate: The Tailored Approach (from the Association of Fundraising Professionals)

Integrated campaigns.

Direct mail, your website, email (e.g., any email subscribers yet to become donors?), social media, Google Adwords (take advantage of Google Grants), mobile web ads, plus ads on social networking sites, enticing story in a press release, etc.

Shower them with praise.  Schmooze the reader.

Sincere flattery is always appreciated.  And it builds stronger relationships.

Always, always, always test, test, test.

Write to a friend. Forget the business letter.

Use a conversational style of writing.  Have plenty of white space for a light, airy look to the appeal.  Short sentences.  Few words of three or more syllables.  And short paragraphs.  Oh, and don’t use tiny font!

Associations – this applies to you too.  The most effective and influential B2B copy is not stoic.  It’s professional yet conversational.  Make it interesting.  Tell a story.  Pump in some emotion.

Have the right mindset.

Ask yourself, “Do I really care about the reader?  Or do I care more about the revenue the reader represents?  Which do I think about the most – the reader or the revenue?”

Your conscious and subconscious thoughts come through in your writing.

To acquire more members or donors, think about what’s best for the reader.  What are they most interested in knowing?  What do they care about?

Choose your lists wisely.

Based on what motivates people to respond to your cause or to join your association . . . what are they reading?  Where are they hanging out online? 

Superhero storylines are straight forward: Hero sees a bad guy doing something bad and stomps him out.  Simple job but rarely easy.  Result? Good triumphs over evil.

Translating the superhero storyline into nonprofit lingo: Donor (hero) see sonething bad happening (what your mission corrects) and donates to stomp it out.  The donor-hero helps you (the nonprofit) do what you promised in your appeal.

Your task is also straight forward: Do your research, use the right tools, shine the spotlight on your readers and stomp out mediocre response.

Simple fundamental direct response tactics that are rarely easy to execute.

Result? Great work triumphs over short cuts and hurried efforts.  Response rates go up.  You save the day and your boss thinks you’re a hero.  Congratulations Batman!

{ 3 trackbacks }

My dream for more donor-centric copy — Karen Zapp - Nonprofit Copywriter
January 27, 2012 at 7:10 pm
Why Teddy Bears - & Donors - Give & Give — Karen Zapp - Nonprofit Copywriter
June 24, 2013 at 7:54 pm
Want more donors or members? — Karen Zapp - Nonprofit Copywriter
June 24, 2013 at 8:19 pm

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