Jan 16, 2010

Haiti and Charity: 6 Ways to Raise More Money

Seth Godin inspired me to pay more attention to charity work. He supports Acumen Fund, which has a little bit different approach to solving poverty. You can visit their website from the link at end the of this article.

Non-profits like Acumen Fund lives from donations. I have been ordering Acumen's free newsletter to see how they are going.

It was their latest email message that caught my eye. Not because it was so persuasive, but because it was obvious that it hasn't been crafted by a direct marketing expert. See the message below.

Dear Timo,

I've heard from many of you asking for suggestions of where to give and what to do in light of the devastation taking place in Haiti. It is impossible to look at the extraordinary photographs of destruction and despair without feeling your heart twist, wondering what it will take to rebuild and how long that process will require. Right now, of course, the world's focus must be on helping the millions of victims survive. As soon as that situation is stabilized, however, we need as a world to help Haiti build for a better future. That will take much more than money, but a more determined insistence on establishing the right policies and infrastructure to enable markets to work, better education for all, and investments in entrepreneurs that won't stop until they have solved tough problems or created significant numbers of jobs.

There are many organizations doing good work in Haiti, and Acumen Fund recommends two. Partners In Health <www.pih.org> has been committed to helping Haitians for more than two decades; and supporting them will enable greater focus on both short-term relief as well as longer-term investment. Architecture for Humanity <www.architectureforhumanity.org/> will focus on the longer-term by building critically needed housing and community structures. We are proud to know the entrepreneurs behind the organizations and can vouch for their quality as individuals focused on doing the right things.

I hope this helps in some small way. We stand in solidarity with our Haitian brothers and sisters and with people all around the world who are seeing how much we need one another, how interconnected we are, and how much each of us can do.

In peace,

I emailed Acumen and asked if they used a direct marketing expert to write their messages. They said no. To me that is amazing, since donations are their life line. Without money, there will be nothing to offer except ideology. I drafted this reply to them to help them raise more money, it applies to all fundraising.

Six ways how direct marketing can help your non-profit to raise more money

1. Have a direct marketing copywriter edit your text before broadcasting. That is the easiest and quickest way to raise more money for your cause.

2. Focus on clarity. Try to use as simple words as possible. Your grandmother should be able to understand and respond to your message. Write in the present tense, avoid passive.

3. Write longer letters. The more you tell, the more you sell. Do you have a street team collecting donations from pedestrians? If you do, interview and record their sales pitch. If not, try to sell your cause in person to find out what arguments works. Ultimately that should be your copy text (message). Your message should be able to overcome all objections, just like in the real life fund-raising.

4. Test. This is a little bit more complicated part, where a direct marketing agency can help you. Testing is the key to success in direct marketing as well as in advertising, and it should not be over looked. It means you test different variations of the message to determine which brings in the biggest amount of money.

5. Look cheap. I know that you are not a traditional charity organization, but you too should look like you really need the money, and that you don't waste it in administration costs and fancy offices. People like charities to use their money wisely.

6. Ask for a specific amount "This Christmas you can help a blind man see. 10 $."

Having a direct marketing specialist or an agency could be the most profitable investment you make. I wonder how many other non-profits rely only to their in-house marketing skills?

Click here to learn more about Acumen Fund and their important work

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