How to hide the stuff your fundraising shouldn’t include in the first place

It’s a sad fact of life that sometimes you have no choice but to include pointless content in your fundraising because Somebody in your organization thinks it’s important and they’re a Somebody you can’t ignore.

In a perfect world, you could enlighten the Somebody by telling them you need to see things through donors’ eyes and this piece of content amounts to a big fat waste of ink when you look at it that way. And they’d say, “Oh, I get it. Never mind. Use your fundraising to raise funds. I don’t need my personal agenda promoted at the possible expense of revenue.”

Yeah, right.

I’m going to let you in on a deep and dark consultants’ secret for dealing with Somebody’s Pointless Content in a direct mail appeal:

Hide it in the Dead Zone of the letter.

The Dead Zone is the middle of the last page of the letter. I believe you could put just about anything there, no matter how dumb or ill-conceived and it would do no harm.

Take a look:

Deadzone

(Please note that the Dead Zone is not the entire last page of the letter. The P.S. is one of the most live zones of the whole piece.)

In an ideal world, you’d never be forced to put material in fundraising that doesn’t pull its weight, that doesn’t thrill donors into giving.

Until then, you can always hide it!

(This post first appeared on November 19, 2012.)


Comments

2 responses to “How to hide the stuff your fundraising shouldn’t include in the first place”

  1. This seems like a good short-term solution, if Somebody buys it. Unfortunately, Somebody may use this precedent you’ve set to take up residence in future letters’ dead zones.
    A longer-term approach might be to pitch to Somebody the idea of testing the dead zone letter against one without their “important” content. If your version outperforms theirs, you get a little credibility. If theirs wins, well, then everyone does. If it’s a tie, you’ll both be glad that you’re a) considering each other’s point of view and b) using both data and intuition to make decisions.
    If you really want to stack the deck, put Somebody’s content in a live zone, and then compare the test results.

  2. This seems like a good short-term solution, if Somebody buys it. Unfortunately, Somebody may use this precedent you’ve set to take up residence in future letters’ dead zones.
    A longer-term approach might be to pitch to Somebody the idea of testing the dead zone letter against one without their “important” content. If your version outperforms theirs, you get a little credibility. If theirs wins, well, then everyone does. If it’s a tie, you’ll both be glad that you’re a) considering each other’s point of view and b) using both data and intuition to make decisions.
    If you really want to stack the deck, put Somebody’s content in a live zone, and then compare the test results.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.