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Fundraising - Copy and Content?

7 September 2010 at 11:31 am
Staff Reporter
OPINION | What's the difference between copy and content and what does it mean for fundraising? Copywriting expert Jill Ruchel from Praxis explains.

Staff Reporter | 7 September 2010 at 11:31 am


Fundraising - Copy and Content?
7 September 2010 at 11:31 am

What's the difference between copy and content and what does it mean for fundraising? Copywriting expert Jill Ruchel from Praxis explains.

Have you heard the statement 'content is king' – usually in relation to websites?

Making sure your website has good content is about getting visitors to stay there when they visit, on the assumption that the longer they stay, the more they are learning about you and therefore the more likely they are to make a gift.

But how do you actually persuade them to take the next step and make that gift you're looking for?

You use copy – and when I refer to 'copy' I'm really talking about sales copy – copy that persuades your prospect or donor to take action.

In my view, all good fundraising copy (aimed at getting a donation) is sales copy. Not everyone agrees, but there you go.

Sales copy is salesmanship in print. Content is where you educate your readers.

How does this apply to fundraising appeals? Shouldn't they also be aiming to educate their readers?

Yes. And no.

Yes fundraising letters should be educating your readers about what you do – but that isn't their primary purpose. Their primary purpose is to get a donation, and too often, organisations lose sight of that.

Fundraising appeal letters should not be your primary vehicle for educating your donors. They are your sales vehicle.

Sales copy persuades. It doesn't challenge fundamental beliefs – it appeals to them. It outlines benefits. It invokes your 'product' as the solution to all the problems you've identified.

In contrast the role of content is to 'pre-sell' what you do by:

  • providing valuable information
  • establishing your organisation as an expert
  • creating trust
  • helping your prospect or donor understand the value and importance of your service
  • reinforces and underpins your sales copy.

I've never heard a better argument for sending donors content as well as appeal letters. Yet many organisations don't, and find it difficult to generate a strong response from their donors.

Often when content is provided in the form of newsletters or blogs, annual reviews or free reports, it's not given as much attention as the money-making fundraising letters. Yet content needs as much of a big idea or concept as sales copy if it is to make a lasting impact on the recipient.

Sure there's content in fundraising appeal letters. There has to be. But education is not their primary purpose. It's simple. If you are using fundraising appeal letters primarily to educate, you're going to be raising less money.

Online it's clearer: content gets traffic. Sales copy is for turning traffic into donations.

Jill Ruchel is a professional fundraising copywriter specialising in fundraising online, landing pages, web sites, SEO copy, direct mail, email, bequest acquisition and collateral, appeals, donor acquisition, monthly giving and donor servicing copy.


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