Headed to the Bridge Conference

In just a few days, one half of the massive nonprofit messaging force that is M&C will take off for Washington, D.C. and one of the coolest conferences around.

TRANSLATION: Merritt and I are going to the Bridge Conference and we are rett-ta-go!

Like a never-ending gobstopper of nonprofit fundraising goodness, the Bridge Conference is one layer of educationnetworkingfunexpansiveconversation after another. They bring in the big boys (you got your PETA, your HRC … your Humane Society, et al ...) which is great.

It's not every day you get to hear the agency account leads as well as representatives from the nonprofits themselves let you in on the packages they're testing, what's winning and more important to my cold, dark heart—what they thought would kill and completely tanked.

An ounce of someone else's pain is worth a pound of me thinking twice before I recommend that COOL PACKAGE. Heartless.

But if it's hugs and happy hours you seek—which I do, I'm only cutthroat when it comes to copywriting … and not really—get thee to Bridge. We see so many clients, friends and meet so many new people we're high on good cheer for a week after we get back. Christmas in July. Peace on earth and good will toward men.

Rather than rhapsodize any further, I encourage you to check out the full schedule and see for yourself.

And be sure to follow me @mjtiffany and Merritt @merrittengel on Twitter as we'll be tweeting like the dickens from the sessions we're in. You can stay on top of all the Bridge jams with the hashtag #Bridge14.

*I have no affiliation with the Bridge Conference and this love poem is spontaneous. It's that good.

And they all gave happily ever after ….

Admit it. We all fall prey at times. The Fairy Tales of Fundraising.

Consider the urgent appeal that so dramatically (dare we say, hyperbolically?) calls for an immediate response to forestall impending disaster. And never a thought of Aesop’s bored little shepherd boy who shouted out false alarm.

“Don't cry 'wolf' when there is NO wolf!” the villagers admonished. When the wolf actually does come, no one responds to the call.

Or picture the harried volunteer manager, frenetically dashing from task to task as she falls ever further behind. After all, it often seems quicker to do something yourself than to convince (or teach) someone else to pitch in.

Sound remotely like The Little Red Hen as she bravely announces, “Then I’ll do it myself”?

Or think of the countless organizations reaching for the next shiny new thing. Ever hopeful, investing time after time … in the pricey premium that’s a can’t-fail investment … or state-of-the-art software that’s an end-all solution…or a proprietary new approach and its path to prosperity.

Surely this couldn’t be those treacherous tailors who knew how to weave a cloth “invisible to anyone who is too stupid and incompetent to appreciate its quality."

It’s so seductive, this siren’s song. Always a quick and easy solution. Plug-and-play.  Set-it-and-forget-it.  Trust me ... it'll be all right.

And perhaps nowhere is the deception more dangerous than in acquiring new supporters.  Just get someone to raise their hand and ask for information…attend an event…or better yet, send in a gift ... and you’ll own them forever.

When you really don’t own them at all.  In fact, unless you earn it, you likely won’t receive further consideration at all.

Because when it comes to fundraising, fairy tale endings are few and far between.

Auditing Your Direct Mail: 3 Ideas for Improvement

A lot of nonprofits look to M&C to review and critique their direct mail. Creative audits are one of our favorite types of projects. It's gratifying when relatively small changes dramatically improve results, as is often the case.

Here are a few of the consistent pitfalls we see nonprofits make with their direct mail:
  • Trying to get too much in—A direct mail piece should have one primary call to action. Resist the urge to put the kitchen sink in there because you are making a larger investment in direct mail. Get your primary action in there early and often—and don't assume your readers will make it to the backside (sad as it is).
  • Being too focused on you—Yes, the mailpiece is coming from your organization, but you have to focus on the readers' needs and wants. Around here, we call that "meeting them where they are." And not expecting it to be the other way around. 
  • Letting "pretty" outweigh functional—Consistent branding is important but when the rules go too far, then they do more harm than good. A competent graphic designer should build standards that provide as much flexibility as they do limitations and that work with the full spectrum of channels. And if you're encouraged to use headlines or fonts that are hard to read, run. And run fast.  
Get in touch with M&C if you're interested in learning more about creative audits.