A top-secret source of fundraising ideas: swipe files revealed.
Listen closely now. I’m about to ask you to do something bold. Brazen, even.
I want you to steal the idea behind this article. Adapt it, then claim it as your own.
Will you do it?
Chances are, you won’t. I’ll bet the mere idea of swiping someone else’s creative idea makes you feel, well, icky inside ... like when your bare foot lands on something squishy in the back yard.
But I’m here to change your mind. Why?
Because I want to help you do better fundraising. Which, in this case, means that stealing other people’s ideas is a strategy you must embrace and regularly practice. In fact, copywriters and graphic designers all over the world have a name for the top-secret place where we collect other people’s creative ideas. It’s called a ‘swipe file’.
For years, the process of building a swipe file was laborious. Costly, too. In a nutshell: you gave token (or not-so-token) donations to a handful of nonprofit organisations –typically those similar to yours – and then collected what arrived: fundraising appeals, donor thank-you letters, monthly-giving upgrades, and so on.
From this nonprofit counter-intelligence collection you ‘harvested’ the best creative gems: catchy headlines, shrewd choice of tick box amounts, irresistible envelope teasers…
When it was time for you to launch something new – from acquisition appeal to holiday newsletter – voilà! You snuck off to your secret swipe file to pluck one of those creative gems to revise, adapt and test. When the donations began to roll in, kudos all around.
Another advantage: swipe files let you spy on nonprofit competitors, in real time
Don’t believe me? I make it a practice to build a swipe file of the competition for my long-term clients. Years ago, I was able to alert a CEO client of a comment made by the leader of a competing nonprofit. We crafted a polite counter, and garnered positive press.
And swipe files don’t just work for direct mail. They work online, too. For example, this year I built a nonprofit email swipe file by creating a gmail account to serve as my electronic swipe file location, then I subscribed to 99 nonprofit email newsletters. At last count there were over 1,600 email newsletters and e-appeals, full of priceless ideas, waiting for me to tap.
You can create one too, by stealing my strategy. (Stealing – there’s that word again!)
Do you remember I mentioned that building your own swipe file can be laborious? And that, due to the donations you must send to get your name ‘seeded’ on those direct mail lists, it can be costly? Fear not, when shy of time and money, you have another secret weapon: SOFII.
Simply put: SOFII holds the world’s greatest swipe file
And this world’s-greatest-swipe-file is yours to access online, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week – for free. All because you belong to the SOFII family of fundraisers. How cool is that?
I’ll tell you how cool, with three real-world examples.
This month alone, a client and I decided to modify Greenpeace’s Big Ask on our holiday reply slip. For another client, a couple of creative concepts from SOFII’s direct mail appeal samples. And when one of my e-news readers (not a client) asked me about thanking donors, I sent her to the before-and-after donor thank-you letters exhibit. (Full disclosure: that was my exhibit. But: still free.)
Bottom line? I use swipe files because they work for my copywriting business; for my clients; and for the amazing causes for which they work so hard.
And swipe files can work for your nonprofit, too. So why not begin with the world’s best? SOFII.
Go ahead. Try it. I won’t tell...
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