Creative Corner Lessons You Learn From Non-Profits (1,224 word
Labor Day makes me think of the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. As a child, I would watch solemn faced, call in my pledge and eagerly wait to hear my name on the local TV feed of the show. The operator taking the call would ask if I wanted my donation to be announced on the air and I always did.
The excitement would escalate as the numbers grew on the tote board. Viewers knew what Jerry's final number was—the dollar amount he was trying to raise—and we hoped he would make his goal for that year.
The real emotional connection that I had with the show was "Jerry's kids." Seeing the faces of the children and hearing their stories made my sister and I gather up our allowances and dial the number.
I decided to devote this month's column to charitable non-profits because I think they offer many lessons that can make purely commercial mailings more effective.
It's powerful when your direct mail piece … especially your letter … comes from a real person.
Disabled American Veterans sends out amazing direct mail. I'm looking at a letter from the campaign chairman. It shows a picture of him in his wheelchair. The letter begins with his story and how he was shot in Vietnam. The tone is very conversational; he writes just as I imagine he'd speak if you were sitting next to him. The typeface looks like a person's handwriting. There is even a sticky note, personalized to the recipient on the front. The P.S. is very emotional: "No other organization does more than the DAV for all disabled veterans. They may be paralyzed like me … or blind. They may have lost a leg … or the ability to hear. And what about those who left their minds on the battlefield … we must do all we can." I was just so touched by this appeal.