I’ve recently transitioned from working in commercial advertising to the wonderful world of non-profits. One thing I enjoy about commercial advertising are the emotional appeals and heartfelt stories that follow certain brands. Think inclusion with Coca-Cola, inspiration with Nike or comedy with Mayhem for Allstate. These brands understand that what connects you to an audience are the emotions and relatability of your product or service.
It’s no different – and maybe connecting is even more important – for nonprofits and direct response fundraising. It’s critical to create content that will have your donors reading and weeping… and feeling the urge to support you. In my short time in the nonprofit space, I’ve quickly come to see that donors are still consumers. If you want to earn their support, you first have to win their hearts.
So how do you create a direct mail package or email or other campaign worth crying over? Here’s one tip to get you on the right track: Think of reasons you watch or listen to an ad. It has maybe two seconds, or less, to grab your attention. It’s no different with non-profits and direct mail. Your carrier envelope or subject line has to draw them in. And the message you deliver has to grab them right away and keep them reading!
Getting them to read, weep, laugh, think and, ultimately to act is no easy feat. So next time you watch a commercial for Coke, or Corona, or Kia, or whatever commercial product makes you feel good or somehow “connected” to a brand – analyze it and ask yourself why it works for you. (It’s not news that these companies spend millions to connect with potential consumers, so jump on their coattails and see what you can learn.) Is there something – an idea, an approach, a feeling – you can use to help you build connection to your nonprofit? Take it, own it, use it and make hay to fuel your nonprofit’s good work.