A creative brief for fundraisers: why it matters, and how it can help you raise more money

This creative brief comes courtesy of Lisa Sargent, principal at Sargent Communications, LLC in the USA.

Written by
Lisa Sargent
Added
May 23, 2013

You sit down and write! Right? So, you’ve got a fundraising letter to write – and it’s got to be the best appeal that’s ever been written in the history of fundraising appeals. Your deadline is two weeks away. What’s the first thing you do?

Not so fast: you sit down and think. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound as glamorous.

But the truth is, behind every great appeal stands a silent but essential partner: the real star of the show.

This essential partner goes by many names: creative brief, marketing concept and copy platform, to name a few. And why is it so vital to the success of your next appeal – or even your next major donor brochure or online fundraising campaign?

Because a good creative brief tells you everything you need to know: who you’re writing to; why you’re writing (and yes, you need a good reason to write); what you want your readers to do; when they must act; and how to take action.

Then it goes a step further and answers equally critical (but too often overlooked) questions like: are there any words and phrases you must avoid? Can your letter be personalised? Who will sign the letter, and why?

‘Now really, Lisa,’ you ask, ‘how important can this creative brief be?’

Well, imagine your body without a backbone. I’d wager that most people would react far differently to the human jellyfish version of you than they do to the ‘you’ of today.

Sadder still, many would turn away without ever knowing the real you – just as many readers will do for a fundraising appeal without a creative-brief-backbone.

So how do you go about creating a creative brief?

Easy: you swipe mine.

Just for you, I’ve published this creative brief template, under a Creative Commons license. And that means you can borrow with abandon. It's below, in full.

Enjoy! And do let me know how those new appeals perform: lisa@lisasargent.com.

About the author: Lisa Sargent

Lisa Sargent

As head of Sargent Communications, Lisa Sargent helps nonprofits raise more money and keep more donors through better donor communications. A creative strategist and copywriter, Lisa works exclusively with nonprofits on direct mail, email fundraising and donor care communications – acquisition appeals, annual reports, proposals, welcome packages, e-appeals, newsletters, thank-you letters and more.

Lisa’s articles have been featured in Mal Warwick’s newsletter, FundRaising Success Magazine and The Agitator. Lisa also publishes The Loyalty Letter, a free e-newsletter for nonprofit and charitable organisations read by subscribers around the world.

Lisa has regularly contributed to SOFII, including the wonderful thank you letter clinic, which you can read here.

Recent Articles

Fundraising in a time of crisis and World-changers at Work: The Good Suspended video series

All around the world, people are doing amazing things to help others cope during the coronavirus pandemic. Italian fundraiser Francesco Ambrogetti shares some of his favourites in this video series, entitled The Good Suspended.

Read more

The most successful advertisement in the history of the world

What is the most successful advertisement ever? Legendary marketing expert Denny Hatch tells all and there’s so much fundraisers can learn from this.

Read more

Meet the world-changers - overcoming adversity: an interview with Michelle Berriman

This is one of the best interviews we’ve had on SOFII and certainly in the WoW! Project. Michelle Berriman, Executive Director at the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand, has had a fascinating and at times harrowing life. She has kindly and candidly shared her story with SOFII’s Joe Burnett to explain how she used her personal struggles to become a real world-changer at work.

Read more

Refugees build bridges across society

In an article originally written for Fair Observer during Refugee Week, Lyndall celebrates the contributions refugees have made to British society and how we can fight back against discrimination and prejudice.

Read more

Face-to-face fundraising: Bill’s story

Anne Marshall, Director of Field Operations for the Canada division of agency Up Fundraising, tells the inspirational tale of her friend Bill and how he is one of the best face-to-face fundraisers she’s ever met.

Read more

Also in Categories