a book you’ll want to read ⋆ Hands-On Fundraising

“Creative Deviations”… you know you’re going to find this one interesting right from the title.

John Lepp and Jen Love are partners in an agency you’ve probably heard of. Agents of Good are known for their creativity and utter dedication to the humanity of fundraising.

They’re also people I’m honored to call friends.

So when Pamela Grow let me know John had written a book, I immediately got in touch with him to ask if I could buy it. I couldn’t – yet – but he did send me his draft.

It’s called Creative Deviations, How you can infuse your story-telling, fundraising and direct response with more creativity.

I’ll use John’s words to explain what it’s all about:

Creative Deviations is an anecdotal and thoughtful how-to guide to help you become more creative. It’s part graphic design, part design-thinking, part storytelling, part strategic thinking and part love note to you amazing humans who work so hard for your causes, your donors, your mission, and your desire to contribute and make positive change in our world. Thank you.

John Lepp

I set aside a good chunk of time and read the book all the way through. It’s full of ideas, examples, and solid advice. All the important information that John’s learned over many years of success.

I know I’m always looking for examples of great work to inspire me. So if you like some serious thought along with lots of how-to advice and great examples, this is the book for you.

And now you can buy it! But first, I wanted to share a bit about what you can expect.

Outer envelopes matter – a lot

You might spend most of your time crafting a great story for your next appeal. I get it. I do the same.

But John reminds us that all your work will be for NOTHING if the outer envelope doesn’t attract attention. It needs to stand out in a crowded mailbox. It needs to get your intended reader to actually open it. If not, your appeal will never be seen.

So John spends a lot of time thinking about that humble outer envelope. One hint: do anything but that #10 window envelope. There’s a world of possibilities…

Below is one I received. I love the way they started the story right there on the outside. That will pull you in!

John also suggests using a larger size: Agents of Good have found a 9.5 x 5.875 envelope performs best. But test. Be creative!

Bless John for this.

A logo is something that can easily distract us from real fundraising. Creating one is really creative work – so I’m not downplaying the importance.

But, awesome logo or not so awesome logo, fundraising carries on. And for your donors, familiarity is probably much more important than a clever logo.

Years ago, the organization I worked for hired a fancy marketing firm to help build our recognition and ultimately, fundraising revenue. Instead, they zeroed in our name.

Yes, the organization’s name. This was a community organization, with a name that said just what it does. But I think it seemed more fun to play with that rather than digging into something more difficult – like fundraising!

Eventually, there was a compromise and a new logo. (And it’s good!)

I had left by then, but I suspect that fancy new logo made very little difference to fundraising results. I worried that it would hurt them, actually. Because the logo donors knew signaled something to them. Would the new one be confusing? Would they wonder if this was the organization they’d trusted for years?

The point is that logos and brand guidelines are there to serve your mission, not constrict it. Your brand? It’s not about a font, colors, or even a logo. It’s about the way someone – like your donor – feels about your organization and its work.

We don’t give because we like an organization’s brand colors. We give because giving feels good. Because we feel we’ll accomplish something good.

But while we’re talking about fonts, John’s favorite is… Courier. Yup. For good reason, too. It reminds us of typewritten (that is, touched by human hands) letters. It feels warmer.

And when John uses it, they raise more money.

Show that to your brand police!

Gratitude is not bad

I don’t mean it’s “eh.” I mean, ignore anyone who tells you that showing gratitude to donors is wrong.

Fawning over only large dollar donors is icky. Changing your mission to suit the wallet of someone with big bucks is just plain wrong.

But thanking your donors… those lovely people who have joined you in your work? Never wrong.

That’s why you’ll want to read Deviation 11 – it’s about gratitude.

Gratitude reports, newsletters, and wonderful thank you letters… You’ll find inspiring examples of all of these in the book. And you’ll be reminded of how much good simple, emotional, gratitude can do. For you and for your donor!

Creative Deviations

What I’ve shared is only a taste of John’s book. I think you’ll want this one. (And no, John let me read it, no strings attached. Writing you is my idea!) It’s full of examples… and we all love to see, not just read about, what’s worked.

John’s style is straightforward. No fluff. Just lots of good advice if you want to raise more money.

There are a few people whose books stay right above my desk – where I can grab them easily. Tom Ahern. Jeff Brooks. Mal Warwick. John’s book will join them there.

You can get your copy here.