The (infamous) 8.55am cattle bell rung in the final day of the annual F&P conference. Here are just a few of the day’s highlights.


  • Only 1 in 9 bequestors will actually tell you they’re leaving a gift in their Will to your charity. (Leah Eustace) 
  • The single most important indicator that someone will leave a gift in their Will? Childlessness. (Leah Eustace)
  • Include a tick box for bequests on appeal donation forms – for Guide Dogs SA/NT it generates about 100 bequest leads per year, about half that of a supporter survey. (Andrew Sabatino) 
  • Australian charities aren’t investing enough in bequests – for every $1 spent, $15 is generated. (Martin Paul) 


  • Recruit a digital fundraiser to your team, one who can develop and design.
  • Test rigorously and continuously (for digital fundraising). Médecins Sans Frontières has done this and discovered that:
    • Tuesday is a much better day to email than Thursday.
    • One word subject lines get much better open rates and response rates than two or more words.
    • Direct mail tactics do translate to digital. For example, a ‘hard ask’ will generate a lot more income than a ‘soft ask’.
    • Using a green ‘donate’ button generated significantly more income than a red donate button.
    • Video (especially a good video) will get more hits, and more engagement
    • Quiz in email generated much higher revenue than an email without the quiz, particularly among less engaged supporters.
    • Display ad tests generated almost 4 x as much income (over $400K) using website retargeting than prospecting in a 50/50 split test.
    • Pop-up web ads increase income, especially when you have a tangible deadline e.g. tax.

Bonus: Charities aren’t ‘not for profits’. They’re ‘profit for purpose’ – Martin Paul. 

Didn’t make it to The Australasian Fundraising Conference (affectionately known as ‘F&P) this year? Not to worry. We were there and we’ve done the legwork. Even if you attended too, you’ve probably forgotten what you heard. Here are our Top 6 takeouts from Day 1. You’re welcome.

  1. By all means test but don’t overdo it

Testing is a good thing but most tests are not very useful because they’re not done properly. Plus, everything has already been tested already by someone with a much bigger database than you.

The bad news, Georgina King of More Strategic tells us, is that things which have been tested before and shown to work (or not) time and time again no longer hold. So if it works for you, keep doing it. If not, move on.

The good news is; no conclusive result is still a result. And it’s fine if you’re testing something (e.g. letter length, logos on outer envelopes) to prove a point but not if it wastes time and resources.

Let’s face it – in light of the above, it’s probably cheaper and easier to just pinch a slide from Pareto Fundraising’s Fiona McPhee’s presentation and show that to your board.

  1. Branding and fundraising CAN mix

As long as the same person is in charge of both, if the entertaining presentation by Peter Loveridge from St John New Zealand is anything to go by. He showed us that by intelligently leveraging your brand values (and we’re not talking fonts and PMS colours here) you can build effective campaigns that engage, inspire – and bring in the big bucks. As Peter would say: “Boom”.

  1. Two-step F2F cash to RG CAN work

Ruth Hicks thinks Amnesty International Australia might just be the first Aussie charity to attempt recruiting regular givers on the street by asking them for cash first, then converting them later. So far, it appears to be working a treat. Watch this space. (She spoke about a whole lot of other stuff that Amnesty is doing really well but so quickly I had trouble keeping up. Get in touch if you want to know more – she’ll probably share the preso with you if you ask nicely.)

  1. Martin Paul does a very convincing Sean Triner impersonation

And Martin can get away with even more cheekiness because of his slightly posher English accent.

  1. You can’t win the Great Debate pretending to be the Easter bunny

Yes, the bunny ears were very fetching and we all enjoyed the chocolate bribes but when a Canadian trumps you with ‘Trudeau is the world’s sexiest prime minister therefore donor psychology is not bollocks’ then I’m afraid it’s all over. That and something about snowflakes. Guess you had to be there.

  1. Pareto drinks are more alcoholic than other drinks

And should come with a Surgeon General’s warning.

What were your key takeouts? Send us a tweet

F&P Day 2 to come tomorrow.

Copywriting is a specific skill. It takes years of practice, and even then it’s not that easy. With so many things to think about – your audience, client, brief, and copy deliverables… you can appreciate that getting a fundraising appeal or call to action right is more than good luck.

For those starting out in the industry, the process may seem overwhelming.  Our CEO, Dominique Antarakis, writes about what it takes to produce great fundraising copy.

1.  The preparation

Read everything. Reading as much as you can will expand your vocabulary and style. It may mean you’ll be a derivative to begin with but as your experience grows, your style will develop.

Remember, writing’s all about clarity and effectiveness.

Bone up on psychology – the way we react to stimuli is different for each of us. It’s amazing what we’ll do depending on how we’re asked to do it.

2. The brief

If you’ve been given a brief, read it from beginning to end. And then reread it again. Briefs are like school exams – read through the whole paper to look for questions that are liable to trip you up.

Check that any attached forms and documents mentioned in the brief are there. Look for any mistakes or omissions. The sooner you iron out any problems or missing elements, the better.

If you are the person writing the brief, ensure that you include all the necessary background information. It’s better to provide too much rather than too little. That said, briefs the size of War and Peace aren’t helpful at all.

3. The reader

You want the reader to nod along as they are reading the campaign material. What brings the story to life?

Using a person’s own words and real-life experiences are where the gold is. Interview to get the quote that sums up what the person’s been through. You need to stimulate an emotional response in the reader within 2 minutes.

Structure the story to ensure that the emotion is present and real. Often it’s the tiniest detail that makes it authentic and humanises the situation. We can talk about an issue in medical terms but when you read about how this impacts a real person, the effect is so tangible.

4. The copywriting process

Read (or draft) your brief. Ensure that you understand what is needed for the campaign; not just the pack elements or digital components – but also the response required and the mechanism you are going to use to achieve it.

After you’ve read the brief, take a notepad and pencil and start making notes. You may find, like I do, that it helps to clear the mind and get you in the mindset to work on the perfect pitch.

Develop an outline and type and edit as you go. Sometimes what I first write on my pad has nothing to do with the finished product. Frequently, that outline brings the gold with which I can then work.

I find an organic process helpful and working this way means I am generally more creative. This is my approach but having a good understanding of the brief, a clear purpose in mind, having settled on the mechanism and then drafting a great outline will help to establish a solid foundation for your campaign.

5. The draft

Ask “Is making this change going to bring us more income? Is it going to help our cause?”

As a fundraising writer, you need to know when to push back and when it’s not worth it. People will respect you more for pushing back when it counts.

If you’re not sure when to concede and when to say ‘no’ to changes, ask: Do I have reasons for my push back? Is there data, research or a rationale to back up my argument and make it objective?

Often the client asks for changes because they don’t like something you’ve written. It’s a subjective thing. If you can base your argument on verifiable data, then you are in a stronger position to defend your reasoning.

6. The reader again

Get into the head of the audience. How do you want the reader to feel? Where will the reader be when they see this? What do you want them to do next?

Sadly, it’s not always about beautiful prose; it’s more about being effective. Don’t be precious about how you’ve worded something. Ask yourself if you’ve got your point across.

7. The most important thing

Most importantly, writers need to meet the brief.

Ask good questions to clarify the brief and communicate more effectively. If you can’t meet a deadline, tell your client as soon as you know. And be versatile.

Study. Check out our online training courses. Look carefully through our curated set of resources or our Blog that will help you focus your mind on the art of copywriting.

Read On Writing Well by William Zinsser. It’s an excellent guide to writing and has stood the test of time, still selling since 1976.

Meet Jenni Anderson and Laura Golland, two rock stars in the NZ charity sector. These two tireless troupers spend their days juggling everything from donor communications to a broad range of fundraising endeavours. Wearing multiple hats they work to promote and fund the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand’s core services throughout the country. Together, they are spreading a life-saving message of stroke recognition and prevention with one hand while whipping up appeals and campaigns with the other. I’m exhausted just thinking about it!

Pictures od Jenni Anderson and Laura Golland

Laura Golland (Left) and Jenni Anderson (Right)

A little experiment

While working on the fundamentals of their roles, Jenni and Laura are always pondering new and different ways to enhance their efforts in the hope of making an even bigger difference.

When planning this year’s Spring DM Appeal they wondered about the benefits of sandwiching a little eDM either side of their direct mail in the hope of boosting response rates. It sounded like a good plan. But not having tried this before Jenni and Laura wanted to be sure they had the time and resources available to ensure their eDM experiment was top notch. The key here was to work smarter not harder.

To help test the concept, the team at The Copy Collective worked with Jenni and Laura to develop their eDM content, calling on our dedicated fundraising writers to piece the project together. We focused on everything from the appropriateness of the subject line to creative, personalised and valid content in a style that would appeal to the reader and finished with a clear and direct call to action. We wanted to do Jenni and Laura proud.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating

As this was an experiment, the results were all-important. The benefits of the eDM sandwiching around the Spring DM Appeal speak for themselves. It has been a very successful campaign boasting over 200 new regular givers and a healthy 7.7% response rate across all giving. Not bad considering the campaign is still running!

Jenni and Laura were especially thrilled with the 38% opening rate on their pre-appeal eDM. Apparently recipients didn’t mind hearing from them again a couple of weeks later with a post-appeal follow-up and donation ask opening at 34%.

So it’s a happy ending all round and time for a little reflection on our learning journey.

Jenni and Laura’s top tips:

  1. Spend time and energy on the things that you do best.
  2. Recognise that the effort you put into your message will likely influence what you get out at the other end – quality copy developed by experts. Although this may incur a short-term cost, your return should be significantly measurable.
  3. A written video script resulted in a stilted recording when video participants presented their sound bites on camera. To help maintain a natural flow, Jenni and Laura broke up the scripts into key points/ideas that the participants could put in their own words, resulting in the ‘e-chats’ sounding more normal and friendly.

Why not take a leaf out of Jenni and Laura’s book? Give it a go! eDM can be an engaging, spur of the moment way to connect with your audience that should be developed with precision and care to ensure it doesn’t head straight to the email trash.

10 Top Apps for Fundraisers

You have a great cause – you are saving the world or a part of it. You have so much to do but little money. And because of these reasons you have no time to research apps that would make your life easier. We hear you!

So we’ve flexed our fingers and trawled the internet to find the top apps to make a fundraiser’s life that little bit easier. From rostering your teams, managing projects, collaborating with the group, reducing paper or tracking your email campaigns, these apps will help you stay on top of it all. We know it to be true because our team uses them in the daily operation of our business.

  1. Evernote– Free, Plus $29.99 pa, Premium $56.99 pa, Business $13/user/month

If you are not using Evernote you should be. Record notes with a pen on your favourite notebook and take photos and tag with smart tags – searchable handwritten notes. Type the notes into Evernote on your phone and there they are on your desktop. All synced in the cloud. You can add text, pics or audio to Evernote. The search function means you don’t need any fancy organising system. Organise by notebook or tags or both. Separate subjects demand their own notebooks. Keep some private and some for business. Share notes or just links.

  1. Trello– Free, Gold, Business, Enterprise

Trello is like a whiteboard with columns and sticky notes except it’s digital. You can keep on track using the reminder function, share your boards or just a card, add checklists and photos. Trello makes organising projects a breeze. Great visual impact and the whole team can join for free. We really love this one…

  1. Scannable– a free app that goes with Evernote and, using your camera, scans pics to PDF.

Great business card scanner too, as it saves the card to Evernote and your contacts and asks if you want to share your contact with the business card owner. Neat.

  1. NationBuilder– $29/month – $499/month

Not so much an app as a microsite for engagement on specific projects or events. NationBuilder is great for annual events or ongoing fundraising. You can register for free and there are also paid options. You can fundraise from the get-go and it pulls in data from Facebook and Twitter, so every time you get a follower the information is pulled into your database. Super easy-to-use and you can go live in less than a day for simple sites.

  1. Deputy– Free for up to 10 employees, $4/month per employee

Rostering made easy. If you have lots of volunteers or just a dozen casuals, Deputy makes it easy to see timesheets, what people are working on and where they are located. Volunteers log in via a smartphone app and the timesheets can be exported to your payroll software if you need to pay for time or expenses.

  1. Sidekick– Free, Power User $10/month

Who is opening your emails? When do they open them? Get Sidekick and you won’t be guessing. In the meantime, download Sidekick Chrome extension and get great business intelligence on the fly for free.

  1. Google Apps– $5/user/month or $10/user/month unlimited storage

Who knew that a couple of geeks would change the world? Google Apps is taking off throughout the business world and there’s a reason for that – they are great: business email, calendar, Google Drive, Google Hangouts and Google Plus. Collaborate, share, sync across devices – excellent for teams. Use Hangouts for instant messaging, Drive for storage and collaboration.

  1. Facebook– Free, reasonably-priced advertising from $7

Mark Zuckerberg has a lot to answer for – he’s changed the way we communicate. Whether you love or hate Facebook, no fundraiser can be without an up-to-date Facebook page. Create new pages for events or campaigns, get more traffic in a day than you would in a week on your stand-alone website. Engage with your community or build one. Everything to do with connecting people in a virtual world is possible with Facebook.

  1. Canva– Free, Canva at Work (pricing to be released)

As a fundraiser you are probably responsible for updating up to a dozen social media sites. Are you a designer? Probably not but that doesn’t mean you don’t get to design your Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest posts, right? Canva will save your life! It’s a design tool for non-designers. Suddenly, you will be looking like a pro – on and offline. It automatically provides the right size images for Facebook, Twitter, blog posts, presentations and posters.

  1. CoSchedule– $15/month, $30/month, $60/month

Your marketing calendar just got easier. Schedule blogs and social media, add users and share with your team. Use CoSchedule’s handy Headline Analyzer to make sure your headers zing! Use as a stand-alone or as a plug-in on your WordPress site.

7 steps to a beautiful (donor) garden all year round

1. Clean up garden beds (donor database)
• Remove out-of-date contact info
• Make sure all donor info is accurate and names are spelled correctly
• Remove high-bounce email addresses from eDM database
• Review segmentation/categories for personalised campaigns

2. Apply fertiliser and mulch
• Replenish donors with some (appropriate) love
• Find a happy medium between ‘spam’ and ‘ignore’
• Prepare campaigns for the ‘dry season’
• Re-engage with lapsed donors

3. Re-pot growing plants – upsell your donors
• Ask donors to give more next time
• Ask big

4. Prune shrubs and trees – review campaigns
• Cut back unsuccessful campaigns
• Invest in successful campaigns
• Dissect and learn from what did and didn’t work
• Don’t be afraid to ‘transplant’ campaigns – shuffle your campaign schedule

5. Plant veggies and quick colour – organise case studies
• Review current case studies refresh with new presentation
• Collect new case studies
• Plan for the year ahead – different case studies for different seasons
• Create a mix of ‘substantial’ and ‘colourful’ case studies

6. Clean and mend outdoor furniture – review all infrastructure
• Inspect everything for ‘storm damage’ – fix errors and bugs
• Check organisation contact details across all media
• Make sure all webpages are functional
• Consider refresher training for eDM/CRM software
• Review logistical processes

7. Enjoy a cup of tea – look after staff and volunteers
• Take a moment to recover from tax time
• Send some love to volunteers
• Plan for the year ahead to thank volunteers i.e. Christmas, Volunteer Week 2016

Need any help with your donor garden? Call The Copy Collective +612 8084 6600.

Donor care. Supporter relationship maintenance. Donor stewardship. Donor acknowledgement. They’re all long-winded phrases representing the same thing: Gratitude.

But sometimes we just don’t express it enough – either in direct response to a contribution or as part of an annual donor communication strategy.

There are many reasons we should spend more time thanking donors, but here’s the top three:

1.  Gratitude is good donor retention

Saying “thank you” is the simplest and easiest way to improve donor retention.

Roger Craver, a US-based fundraising consultant says charities “have a 60 to 70 percent chance of getting gifts from [existing donors], but a less than 2 percent chance with a new prospect”.

As many as 93% of first-time donors would give again and up to 70% would increase the value of their donation – if charities did a better job saying “thank you”.

2.  Gratitude is good for the bottom line

Did you know that donors contribute more the longer they have been donating to a cause? That is, a repeat donor will contribute more in the long term, than the equivalent number of one-time-only donations.

Adrian Sargeant, Ph.D., Hartsook Chair in Fundraising and Professor of Philanthropic Studies at Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy found that “A 10% increase in donor retention can increase the lifetime value of the donor database by up to 200 percent.”

Not only do repeat donors give more, they also become charity ambassadors and are more likely to attend events and volunteer time and services.

3.  Gratitude is good for you

Recent studies have found that gratitude is good for your mental and physical health. Showing appreciation reduces stress, enhances empathy and improves self-esteem.

The good news is, everybody can be involved in saying “thank you” to your donors. Board members, staff and volunteers can all benefit from spending just a few minutes expressing gratitude. You don’t need to throw a fancy party or send expensive gifts – a hand-written note or brief phone call is all it takes.

The art of gratitude

Here’s a few things to keep in mind when saying “thank you” to your donors:

  • Share your achievements – remind your donor it couldn’t be done without them.
  • Make it unconditional – don’t ask for another donation.
  • Keep it personal – tailor your acknowledgement to their contribution and loyalty.

And most importantly,

  • Thank your donors for being a good person – not a dollar value.

The Copy Collective is ready to help you craft the perfect acknowledgement for your donors. We have the tools and expertise to assist at every stage, from designing a campaign to writing the perfect letter. If you have any questions or need any help, call Naomi on 0459 348 182 or email nbyers@thecopycollective.com or Dominique on 0409 911 891 or email dantarakis@thecopycollective.com.

What could single mother Britney Spears, who has admitted to “dabbling” in drugs and is renowned for going out without her knickers, have to teach the charity sector about fundraising?

1. Baby One More Time – Britney knows her product really well; it is herself. A talented singer, she was a teen icon who defined pop music in the late ‘90s. Baby One More Time sold 1.4 million physical copies and more than half a million digital copies for the 16 year old. Lesson one is – be very good at what you do.

2. Oops, I Did It Again – Still rocking her “sweet 16” persona, Britney shows with her second album that she could pull off the same stunt – twice. So lesson two is – just because you’ve used a tactic once doesn’t mean you have to “refresh the brand” straight away. You can have success doing the same thing – again.

3. I’m A Slave For You – Britney decides – after turning 19 and three headline-laden years in the industry –to show that she’s an adult and a strong, mature singer with real ability. So lesson three is – if you have used the same formula for a while, consider how you can branch out and make the most of what you have.

4. Toxic –Britney’s 2004 hit showed that she could deliver a seriously good tune, which became a dance anthem – reassuring her fans that she had what it takes to be a star and not just a diva. So lesson four is – despite your challenges and failings/failures pick yourself up and do what you are good at – now is not the time to be a fundraising diva, it’s time to deliver.

5. Gimme More –That’s a fundraising tagline that you probably won’t be using – at least put as baldly as that. However, Britney was ramping up her raunch factor in 2007 and capitalising on her strengths. So lesson five is – now is the time to turn up the dial on your fundraising efforts. If you need more, ask for it.

6. Piece of Me – December 2006 was disastrous for Britney – her parenting was questioned, her fan site closed, she was voted worst dog owner, and she broke up with Paris Hilton. Apart from that she kept forgetting her knickers. Britney turned to music in 2007 and she made lots of money. So lesson six is – ensure your donors know you don’t just want a piece of them – let them know that you value them. It’s time for some donor care.

7. Womanizer – a naked Britney in a steam room? Seriously, I can learn from this? “I know just what you are,” Britney sings – she gets it in one. So lesson seven – do you know just what and who your donors are? Segmentation –also known as ‘community building’ –works.

8. 3 (That’s the name of the song, just ‘3’) – After 11 years in the top searches on Google and with more than 4 million followers on Twitter (in 2009), Brittany decides to go back to basics – 1,2,3.

  1. The focus is on her
  2. She sings a catchy tune, and
  3. She puts her best ‘foot’ forward.

So lesson eight – what are your charity’s three basics in fundraising? Identify them, stick to them and promote them.

Britney Spears on a downward trend

9. Hold It Against Me – Britney has two personas by 2011 – the sweet innocent that fans loved when she was 16 and the raunchy diva of 2011. She offers up both in the lyrics and music video with this hit. She has also learned the art of merchandising and cross promotion and the video features her perfume and make-up. So lesson nine is – are you merchandising, do you cross promote and are your charity’s personas tailored to each community?

10. Till (sic) The World Ends – even Britney needs a good copywriter, as the title of this song shows (it should be ‘Til as in ‘until’, not Till – which is either a cash register or something farmers do to soil). In this post-apocalypse anthem Britney is still singing and, with more than 113 million hits on this December 2012 video, why wouldn’t she be?

So lesson 10 is – while your hits might be trending downward (just like Britney’s), it’s not over until the world ends. See what a good copywriter can do; let us help you trend upwards again. Come visit us here or there or what about this place?, or even somewhere else or maybe, even here.

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