Charity copywriting at its best

| November 11, 2009

Two examples of mighty fine charity copywriting

Dogs Trust marketing brilliance

I regularly have my heartstrings pulled painfully hard by the Dogs Trust. I sponsor a dog at their Shoreham centre, where several animals too traumatised to be re-homed are looked after. So by now I should be immune to their evil marketing ploys. But no. Every time a Dogs Trust mailing arrives I get my purse out. What clever, clever charity copywriting. Were I wearing a hat, I’d take it off to them.

The power of their copy lies in its simple sentimentality. They don’t try to be particularly serious. The copy doesn’t go on about how badly the dogs have been treated in the past or how sad their lives used to be. No statistics about how much it costs to look after a dog or how difficult and challenging rehabilitation can be. No sad pictures, no bandages, no
neglected little doggy faces.

Instead the dog I sponsor cleverly sends me a cheerful letter, valentine’s card, Christmas card or calendar… some kind of short, sweet event-led communication around once a quarter.

‘The trust’s copywriting is shamelessly anthropomorphic. Well done that copywriter! ‘My’ dog tells us about how waggy his tail is (I know, I know!), how much he likes the new ball bought with our sponsorship money, how he’s always getting told off for getting muddy but loves getting washed afterwards. He even signs off with a paw mark and a row of
XXXs… outrageous!

I’m not naïve. I realise my emotions are being manipulated. I can almost feel the strings being pulled. But thanks to the strength of messaging and the delightfully appropriate copy, I’m happy to be led. The reason I donate to the Trust is so the dogs in their care will be happy and well looked after. My dog’s direct mailings prove that the money I send is doing
the job so I’m happy to donate more.

Chaldon Animal Sanctuary newsletter

Then there’s the quarterly newsletter from the Chaldon Animal Sanctuary. In a crowded bungalow in deepest Surrey, Jacky and Liz look after a startling variety of unwanted, lost, unloved, injured and sad animals. Unlike the guys at the Dogs Trust Jacky and Liz aren’t professional marketers. But they’ve hit on almost exactly the same method of getting
their regular donors to make extra donations.

Their charming quarterly snail mail newsletter, four sheets of A4 complete with clipart, goes into hilarious detail about the comings and goings of the creatures in their care. Put together with an affection that shines through, it’s obvious the newsletter is written by non-professionals. But everything’s spelled correctly, the grammar’s spot on and the sheer
quality of the cohesion between the target market’s needs and the tone used is outstanding. They probably have no idea how clever they’ve been.

So again I enjoy sending whatever I can spare. I feel engaged, involved and appreciated by the most important individuals in the charity equation: the end users, the animals. In both instances it feels as though I’m giving to the animals rather than to a charity. Simple but clever – powerful magic.

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Category: copywriting and marketing

By Kate Goldstone - ()

Originally from Middlesbrough, I lived in Brighton for many years before moving to North Devon. I’ve had a passion for words all my life and this is my twelfth year as a freelance writer. In my spare time I draw, paint, sculpt, carve wood and rock, garden, read, write poetry and enjoy long distance hiking. I sing and play the recorder. I collect modernist paintings, vintage rugs and mid-century German art pottery. I’m a member of The Poetry Society. And I am an experienced volunteer shepherd, a ‘Lookerer’.

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