A Different Tone of Voice
Conventional wisdom and common sense indicate that in order to be a successful organization, your best bet is to be well-liked. But when more and more mail looks the same, following conventional wisdom isn't always a good idea.
With its latest donor solicitation mailing, the Center for Rural Affairs (CFRA) throws the notion of being a well-liked organization out the window in its letter. Mailed in October as the first of the CFRA's annual campaign mailings, the letter opens: "Dear Friends, The Center for Rural Affairs may not be the most beloved organization within the corridors of power in Washington, DC. But that is because we tell truths that the powerful prefer untold. We fight battles they wish would go away." The unconventional approach, says John Crabtree, development and outreach officer at the Lyons, Neb.-based rural advocacy organization, helps the CFRA break through the clutter and resonates with its donors. "The reason that works is that in a lot of places in this country, being well-liked in the beltway is not always a plus," he explains. "We've tested that the more brazen we are, the more people take notice. Most people don't say that they're unpopular with authority. We think it's worth saying, because it does stand out."
Sent in a #10 envelope with the teaser "We Need You To Help Change Rural America's Future," the package includes the letter, a reply card, media insert and BRE, all of which are printed on recycled, postconsumer recyclable paper with soy ink (Archive code #601-717352-0811).
The use of soy ink has an added bonus besides its green effect, notes Crabtree, since many of CFRA's supporters live in areas where soy beans are a major crop. The 25,000 to 35,000 housefile that was mailed comprises mostly rural Americans-about a third of whom live in Nebraska, a third whom live in bordering states and a third from the rest of the country. The organization does not use outside mailing lists, rather, it builds its own housefile through newsletter sign-ups on its website, past donors and attendees to CFRA town hall-type meetings.