Secrets of Writing Winning Copy for the Non-Profit Market

Generally, when you write a direct-mail package, you know exactly what your prospects get when they say "Yes" to your offer. For example, prospects get a bottle of vitamins when they respond to a promotion for a diet supplement.

But what's in it for the prospect when he responds to a fundraising letter that you've written? What does he get in return?

Tangibly, he gets nothing, except maybe an immediate follow-up letter asking for more money! So, how do you get him to give you a check or credit-card number?

Well, writing a fundraising letter isn't really radically different than writing any other promotion. You've got to ask yourself, "Why do people give? Why do they respond to non-profits?"

Here are 12 key reasons why people contribute to non-profit organizations:

  1. Benevolence: People want to be altruistic and help others
  2. Power: It makes people feel powerful when they are able to give.
  3. Guilt: We feel guilty when we don't give or give more.
  4. Recognition: People enjoy being recognized as a "silver" or "gold" versus a "bronze" sponsor.
  5. To get free stuff: Some organizations (public television, for example) give gifts in return for donations.
  6. To be heard: People want to have a voice in cause-based organizations such as political groups.
  7. Fear: People donate to causes such as the American Heart Association because they're afraid of what might be coming.
  8. To support beliefs, interests, or a point of view: People donate to organizations that support their politics, religion, or morals.
  9. Tax deductions: A big incentive for some people.
  10. Desire to be immortal: We want to reach beyond our lives; we want to make a difference and leave our mark on the world.
  11. Revenge: People donate to one organization to "hurt" another. For example, a person might give to the Republican Party to get revenge on the Democratic Party.
  12. To express love: People donate money to support something they love – pets, children, veterans, or animal causes, for example.

Now that you know WHY people donate, it will be much easier to convince them to do so. The more reasons you give them to open their wallets, the more successful your fundraising efforts will be.

[This article was excerpted from one of Bob Bly's bootcamp presentations. Learn More about AWAI's FastTrack to Copywriting Success.]

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Published: February 2, 2004

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