Four Steps to Better Creative Strategy

One thing I've noticed in working with a variety of clients on their creative strategies for direct mail, fundraising and communications is that not all organizations understand just what goes into crafting a successful creative strategy. So I thought I'd lay out my four sure-fire steps to implementing a successful creative strategy at your organization.

1. Set Goals

Whether you're strategizing for one mailing or an organization-wide campaign, it's crucial that you have specific and attainable goals laid out clearly for everyone at the organization. I can't tell you how many times I've sat down with a potential client and watched them start to sputter when I've asked them what they expect to achieve with their latest direct mail campaign.

HINT: It's not just about raising money!

The best organizations are looking at each effort -- whether it's a direct mail campaign, online communication, a tweet-up, or something else -- as steps in achieving overall organizational goals. Most donors are getting information from only one or two of your channels. Make that information count.

2. Find your voice.

Chances are, your organization is not the only one working on your issue. So why should your donors give to you instead of another worthy nonprofit? Your donors want to connect to your organization on a personal level, and that is all about your organizational voice and how it stands out from the crowd.

NOTE: This doesn't have to be competitive!

Focus on what YOU do well and communicate that -- in your direct mail, on the web, in your newsletter, indeed any time you communicate with your donors -- with conviction and passion. Your donors will respond to that authenticity.

3. Communicate and Coordinate

You can generate your very best creative by simply communicating and coordinating with everyone on staff. Tell them your goals, ask questions, learn about what they're doing and ask them how that fits with the fundraising  goals you've set. Make sure your web development team knows what you're fundraising on and when.

If you have a copywriter, set up meetings for that person with the program staff working on the issue. If it's something near-and-dear to the Executive Director's heart, see if he or she is willing to take twenty minutes to discuss it with the copywriter.

All of this can make a world of difference in generating accurate, moving and effective fundraising and communications.

4. Personalize

Because this can't be said enough: it's about your donor. So however good your creative strategy is, it won't be nearly as effective if you don't take that final step from understanding what your organizational goals are to understanding why your donor should care. Because if your donor doesn't care, all the hard work you did in the first two steps won't matter one bit.

Pay attention to the campaigns that your donors respond to (and those they ignore). Know what pushes their buttons. Thank them often, always letting them know specifically what their support has helped you accomplish. And give them as many opportunities as you can for interaction, conversation and feedback. Make them feel like key players in your work.

I can't tell you how exhilarating it is to work with an organization that is firing on all cylinders. And the results they get on all of their fundraising and communications efforts are proof that by thinking strategically about your fundraising and communications efforts, you can raise more money and support for your cause. And that's what any nonprofit good creative strategy should be about.