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Roy Jones: Welcome back everybody to part two of our interview with Janet Copland. Well, we’ve talked a bit about offer development and Janet’s Mantra. Did you make them cry and the emotional piece of picking that right issue that really moves the donor, the other thing you mentioned in your opening remarks was you said it was offer and list.
Janet Copland: Yes.
Roy Jones: Talk to me about the list that you see out there today and when you’re doing acquisition, what are you looking for and how are those lists modeled and scored and what kind of donors are you coming up with?
Janet Copland: It’s bottom line, the list is the most important part. Now, as a copywriter, I want to say it’s my brilliant copy that makes you cry, but it’s not. It’s sing it to the right person. You can send, a horribly written letter that makes no sense at all, but if you send it to the right person, and you have the right appeal, somebody who loves puppies and kittens, you can send them almost anything, and they will give. It’s like they understand what they’re giving to, and you don’t have to go on and on. Copy and graphics and all of that add to the success of the appeal. How big is your success going to be? Whether or not the mailing is successful is based on the list. And I mean, Yes. It’s based on the list and, whether or not it’s a lapsed donor, you go into, or someone who went to an event, or someone who volunteered for the organization, there are a lot of internal lists that one must look at, and they say, Oh, well, this person, no, they can’t do that. Or they volunteer we can’t ask them. Volunteers are the most generous.
Roy Jones: So if you had a choice between mailing to an internal list of volunteers and lapsed donors and an outside rented list, who would you go to first? Outside rented or the internal list?
Janet Copland: No, I would go to the internal list first. And then for our lapsed donors, you go to the internal list. And those are quite sometimes we used to call them warm prospects because there was a connection somehow to the organization. They called up for information. There was some connection to the organization. So they’ve heard the name. It’s not completely cold. A cold prospect is a rented list or an exchanged list. And now there’s a lot of co-op lists and, data driven lists. So, people that are older and certain zip codes and people who own their home rather than rent are better, so there’s all these little categories. That you can look at lists, and then there are the lists that are just very popular from other non profits. So, it’s like lapsed donors from something that is similar to you, so somebody will give to a social service type of agency. Well, they’ll probably give to you, as well. Or if they give to a rescue mission, they’ll probably give to another rescue mission. So it’s like you go similarly. I actually started my career as a mailing list broker. And I remember this was a hundred years ago, but things like, remember when we had magazines, Time Magazine and Newsweek Magazine? Well, Newsweek worked amazing, Time didn’t. Nobody knew why, but we tested.
Roy Jones: Interesting.
Janet Copland: You test it. And so that’s what’s so interesting, I think about direct mail. It’s the art and the science, of it. And the science is very important.
Roy Jones: It’s interesting that you talk about these retail lists because there’s still a lot of them mouth there. People don’t realize it, but every time they buy something online, they’re showing up on a list somewhere and it’s those kinds of product buyer list. It shows people are direct responsive. It’s not just Reddit donor list. It’s direct mail. It’s direct response, responsive. So they saw something online and they responded.
Janet Copland: Right. The world is divided between people who give through the mail or buy things through the mail and people who don’t. And it’s very simple. There are people that just will not give through the mail, no matter what you do, how brilliant it is. But, there are people who love direct mail, and give a lot of money through direct mail. That’s why one must never listen to the wife of the chairman of the board who says, I hate direct mail, never use it. Well, she’s not a direct mail donor, but her friend next door is. That’s why lists of people who have given through the mail, To similar causes and, as I said, with the time in the newsweek. It’s like, the ones who have had previous response with nonprofits, and good list brokers give you that information. So, where is that list been successful before? Because they want to sell you more and more names. So they’re going to put together a list recommendation that fits best. And it’s science. We just we look at results. It’s not my opinion. Or your opinion, it’s like what works versus what doesn’t work.
Roy Jones: Very good. List. Offer, copy, design, and it’s in that order.
Janet Copland: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. And offer is, again, list is first. Then it’s the offer because the copy and design, I know everybody gets all wrapped up about the copy and design, but it really is the offer. And I have one offer I did at, way back at Food for the Poor, that just stands out. We were given, life saving medicine to send to Latin American countries, but they had to be shipped. A container load of life saving medicine was 32 hundred dollars. So to get it from the United States to Haiti. So we sent this to everybody. And, all of a sudden from people who had been given 50 dollars before, we got 82 gifts of 3,200 dollars. Because it was such a compelling offer. And it wasn’t different. It wasn’t, it was the same, it was like the October appeal. I don’t know which month it was, but all of a sudden. There were 82 new major donors that came from 50 dollar donors because of the offer. They were not being asked in the right way for something else. Obviously, I’ve had other ones like that, but that one really like. Pops.
Roy Jones: You are taking me down memory lane I’m, just thinking about some of the amazing controls and you may not remember some of these so if you don’t remember, I get it. But when you won package of the year for the acquisition, control package at covenant house Yes, tell me about that package. Do you remember?
Janet Copland: Yeah, it was a little pin involved. So it was a premium package and, and it was when premiums first hit big and it was in a box and it was like, there was like a little angel because it was sort of Covenant House had a basic religious background and we sent a guardian angel,pin. And it just, it blew everything else away. It was very, very, very, very, very strong. And then we did one for A S P C A that again, but that one was very simple, but it wasn’t like a membership and it was like become a member of the A S P C A and I think that was like a backend premium. I’m not a hundred percent sure again, so that those were in the days where we’re sort of, I think we’re a little less premium oriented than we, used to be.
Roy Jones: It’s interesting, though. I’ve seen a few coin packages recently.
Janet Copland: Kind of coming back.
Roy Jones: It’s interesting. Of course, the last time I got a coin package, it made me think of some of the stuff you guys did at Catholic Relief Services,
Janet Copland: Exactly, so all of those, it’s moving along with the technology, so we’ve got digital things going on, but there’s also technology of printing. Because I remember, oh, can’t do anything but two color printing. And, now everything is four color. And it’s cheaper than what, two color used to be and different things, the way things get inserted and the way things get done and it’s keeping up with the technology of fulfillment houses and printers and the quality is so much better at this point. And the way you can, make it look like it was like hand address and closed faced and you can now do all of that.
Roy Jones: Digital printing has changed our world, hasn’t it?
Janet Copland: Digital printing has changed our world, absolutely. So that’s where it has become practical in a sense to mail small quantities, because it was always like, Oh, it was too expensive to mail 2000 pieces. But now you can mail small quantities to the higher end, to major donors, and that is very successful. And the middle donors that sort of middle donor category, where it’s the closed faced, it’s very personal. It’s we’re speaking one on one to a friend. It’s not the flashy and it’s not a lot of printing, it’s very low key. Or you go in the completely opposite direction. And then you do these big packages. That get a lot of attention, so there’s a lot of ways to go with this at this point, but it’s important to know your audience and to make that audience feel special and like I know who you are and if you’re the executive director of an organization, I know you, I know what you’ve done and thinking and one of the other things I wanted to say that after offer, because this is a fairly recent client that I took over locally and I’m not going to tell who it was. And it was someone who was well known locally within their audience. And he wrote letters that were, that made you cry. And I looked at this and I made one small change. And the small change was that I actually asked for money. He never asked for money. He told the story and he didn’t say, and please donate today. I need your help. I need money. They didn’t ask. They did not.
Roy Jones: Gotta ask. You gotta ask.
Janet Copland: And it’s like, I’m always surprised when sometimes when executive directors or even fundraisers, oh, I don’t want to ask, I’m like, what are you ashamed of? It’s like, this is a great organization, you’re helping a lot of people, and you’re also the prospect and the donors they want to help. But I think most of these donors thought, that this guy who was known to them in the community was just giving them kind of an update and they just, they didn’t even think about it. Now some gave, obviously, people gave, but all of a sudden when they were asked and they were asked for something very specific, all of a sudden the money came rolling in and they couldn’t figure it out. And I said, look, they are right. 3 sentences. One at the top, one in the middle, and one at the PS, you do a PS.
Roy Jones: Right. And that same model, Janet, although it’s usually shorter than a letter, you use that in digital as well, right? In email and social media. I mean.
Janet Copland: Absolutely. You’ve got to ask for money and email isn’t just, hi, how are you? We’ve just done this terrific thing. Well, we’ve done this terrific thing. Maybe thank you and give again. We need to do this terrific thing, four more times and we need you to do it, we need you to give money. I’ve always asked, make ’em cry and it’s like ask early and often you almost can’t ask too much.
It’s very hard to offend donors or prospects with asking them because they, expect it. They want to be persuaded. And they want their, cause you’re going for them, how they feel about this. This is what I want to do. You’re allowing them to do what they want to do. Really.
Roy Jones: That’s right. It really is how you minister and care for donors. One of the key ways to do that is to ask. They want to be asked. And sometimes we think they’re offended by the ask, but just the opposite is true. They’re honored by the ask.
Janet Copland: Well, you do it face to face. I mean, I get it, with the piles of mail that come in, but I mean, you see it in the eyes of people when they’re actually asked. I mean, they’re not insulted, they’re blessed by it. So.
Roy Jones: Wow, Janet, list, offer, copy, design, the ask at the beginning of the letter, in the body of the letter, in the PS of the letter both online and on paper. You really have touched on it all, direct mail, integrating with digital, how they work together and both work together to drive people to their websites to process donations. It really is. The one thing you’ve communicated today is that direct mail is not dead. Direct mail has changed ,but it is not dead. It’s still working.
Janet Copland: Just to end up, we lost someone just recently who was the guru of copywriter Jerry Hunsinger. And he just turned 90 and he passed. But, I mean, he was someone, who said, Oh, he wrote an article, the last direct mail donor died in 1980 and he was being very facetious about this and you can see where direct mail, I mean, the death of direct mail was being predicted in 1980 and it’s, just gotten stronger and stronger and stronger and we learn how to do it a little differently but It’s not complete rocket science. It’s not new. It’s taking what’s there, what has worked and then just tweaking it here and there.
Roy Jones: Awesome. Well, Janet, this has been so fun kind of running down memory lane a bit here. And I am so honored to have you as a friend and a mentor. Our relationship has meant so much to me and I appreciate you very much. If somebody wanted to reach you, maybe they’ve got a package they need some help with, or they just wanted to touch base with you. How would they find you? What’s your email address, phone number? How do you want them to reach you?
Janet Copland: Okay. Email is Copland and that’s actually Cop Land C O P L A N D 8 0 8 8 at gmail. com and the phone number is 954 856 8088 and thank you. This was fabulous, Roy. Thank you so much for your kindness and your friendship, over the years and your good advice and mentorship over the years. So here’s to many more.
Roy Jones: Well, we are honored, Janet. Thank you so much, Janet. Again, I want to thank all of our listeners today. Thank you for joining us. Pay attention, watch your social media, watch your email. You’re going to be hearing more and more and more about our Fit Fundraising Broadcast. We’re going to have fun. We’re going to continue to interview some of the top leaders in the industry. So stay with us, hang with us, share it with your friends, and let’s change the world together.