Now that most of my fellow copywriters are focusing on year-end and holiday efforts, I want to share an unconventional but extraordinary appeal I received from an unusual source.

Margaret Battistelli is the energetic and skilled Editor-in-Chief of Fundraising Success magazine and, probably like you, I hear from her a lot via emails announcing webinars, awards, special events and a variety of other activities of interest to our trade.

A month ago I received an email from Margaret with a teaser I couldn’t resist: "Subject:  A humble ask (and no I have not been hacked)."

Turns out the editor is also one good fundraising copywriter. You can download a copy of Margaret’s email to me here and I hope you’ll study it carefully.  It’s a stunningly good example on how to write from the heart to an audience you know about real people and real needs.

Compared with so many e-appeals I receive, this one doesn’t have dancing and singing reindeer, no pumpkins that glow in the dark, no e-cards to download and not even a ‘donate’ button.  It’s pure “me-to-you” communication; the stuff of great direct response fundraising.

The letter opens with an explanation of why Margaret is sending me this letter and wins me over quickly with the statement, that “if you’re going to ask…ask boldly and with outrageous hope.”  Not only good opening copy, but good advice for all us fundraisers as well.

The letter/email appeals for help so Margaret can assist a friend who’s recently gone blind get his life in order by helping him pay a backlog of bills incurred when he first lost his sight.

As you read the appeal pay particular attention to the inordinate amount of detail Margaret offers up to explain why she’s doing this, why this somewhat unorthodox approach and, most importantly, why your money will make an immediate and lasting difference.

AND…in case the appeal raises more than needed? “If there’s anything left over, I’ll come up with a list of charitable options and ask each and every person who donated what they would like me to do with it.”  Nice.

PLUS…The appeal offers a back-end premium, but not the usual chotchke kind of thing. “What I will send you in return is an awesome CD of rock and blues covers by my favorite local band…and one of my own personal family recipes — which if my mom were alive to know I was sharing, she would wallop me with a rolling pin! (Please specify omnivore or vegetarian.)”

In short, as you work on your holiday and year-end efforts take a look at Margaret’s appeal and approach your own “boldly and with outrageous hope.”


P.S.  If you’re still determined to put dancing reindeer or the graphic or animated equivalents in you year-end e-appeals, why not test a simple “I-to-you” communication like this as well. 

This article was posted in: Communications, Copywriting / creative, Direct mail, Online fundraising and marketing.
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