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15/02/2012 - Lessons from long ago.
Lessons from long ago.
Leo’s blog reminded me of a conversation I had just last Friday with a long-time colleague in our industry.
He shared how he still kept his first attempt at writing a fundraising appeal letter. He had worked hard to replicate all the critical direct response and fundraising tactics in a heart-warming letter that needed to raise more than $1million for a leading Australian charity.
He then sent it to me at Robejohn for comment and was thrilled to find my response on his fax machine the next morning.
With a bold red pen I had highlighted the weaknesses in the case for support and the letter flow, the call to action, the $ask and even the grammar errors! All comments were based upon what I had learned over many years.
He was absolutely crushed. I could still feel his dismay and disappointment last Friday … 20 YEARS LATER. However, he learned from that experience what he could never learn from a text book. And these days he’s one of the best judges of dm copy craft that I know (but he rarely writes the letters himself).
It’s this learning by experience that is so, so valuable.
I recall a similar experience in my earlier life. My boss said “have a go at writing the appeal letter for XYZ”. I too laboured long and hard into the night, and presented what I thought was pretty good material. Oh, the embarrassment of having it pulled to pieces.
We all know what makes a GOOD appeal letter. But few people know how to craft a GREAT appeal letter.
Apart from all the vital dm and fundraising relationship tactics, triggers and involvement mechanics, it’s the ‘MAGIC’ that makes a great appeal letter. That MAGIC comes from the passion, heart and soul of who you are and where you’ve learned your lessons.
How about sharing some of your best learning experiences with us!
Kathy L John FFIA