“I’ve written the perfect appeal. But my boss won’t let me use it.”

In yesterday’s Grow Report I asked my readers to share their greatest challenges in creating their organization’s annual appeal.

Whoa…did I hit a nerve!

One CEO wrote:
“I write an appeal which is then taken to 2 committees and then the board.  Each group edits the letter, adding things for the reader to do and, in the end, confusing enough of them that they take no action.  I tell the various members that we can’t ask our donors to choose among 4 different options, but they think that more is better.”

Another DD wrote:
“Our CEO insists I write my newsletters and direct mail pieces to only highlight our great kids programs. When I try to explain that it’s less about sharing how great we are, but more about connecting to the donors, he cuts me off. I tell a lot of great stories, but he hates it when I put in donor specific requests.”

And in my Direct Mail Fundraising Course, one participant wrote:  
“We write something here and it gets edited and proofed to death.”

And a fundraising manager who had just shared a story that brought me to tears wrote:
“You asked what people struggle with when preparing a direct mail campaign. For me there is a chance I won’t be able to use this story. I tried to use it for our annual appeal and was overruled on its suitability. I am going to have another go because I believe it is absolutely stunning and to also have that photograph – well let’s just say that I believe it is fundraising gold!”

In his article, Why, oh why, don’t they trust you?, Tom Ahern writes:

The head of fundraising (the director of development, or advancement, or whatever you choose to call the position) should have sole and final approval on every donor communication, whether it’s an appeal, a newsletter, the donor portion of the website, the annual report to donors, emailed solicitations, fundraising event invitations … etc.

Print it out and post it above your desk.

Micro-managing destroys fundraising results.  End of story.

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