Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I'm ransoming beer. Until 5pm Tomorrow

I recently sent out a fundraising appeal; and I thought that you might enjoy reading about it here. Now, the fundraising is absolutely dead-nuts serious. I'm trying to cure cancer here. No jokes about that. But - and it's natural for me - to brand it with my own writing style and write in "the voice" that's authentic for me. There are some key elements in a fundraising appeal that, over the years, I've found work well. And I think that I've hit my marks on this one, and you might enjoy.

It's not that I set about with a cunning template and a formula to plug things into. But read through the note, and use the purple stuff as editorial, much like in the DVD director's cut with actor voiceovers describing the scenes

You can read this post in one of three ways

  1. As a treatise on copywriting.

  2. A one guide to fundraising

  3. As a base appeal to the worst, and best, aspects of the human condition

My first goal is already achieved. Despite your best judgment, you're reading this thing. It's a compelling headline isn't it? Me+beer is second only to Me+SmallBrownDogOrMrsLongSuffering.

And, there's a deadline. People LOVE deadlines. People act on deadlines. If there's no deadline, it gets put off. So, that's a key for item 2 (the fundraising guide). Put a deadline in your offer.

At this point, you, the audience, are engaged and curious and you know You Have To Act Now. Or not, but that's ok, too.

I’m ransoming beer.

Each donation helps accelerate finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. More than 823,000 Americans are battling these blood cancers. I am hoping that my participation in Team In Training will help bring them hope and support.

So, deadlines are a great inducement to act. And people will act for a variety of reasons. There are two I've come to learn are pretty common amongst most folk:

  1. Altruism and aspiration: we're embarked on a large, important cause here.

  2. Personal connection: as I've learned, far too many people I know have a connection to the cause - a loved one who has had the scourge of cancer invade their life and leave lasting scars that wound not just the patient but their friends and family

So, now we have an intellectual tension. We have beer; we have marketing; and we have a Cause. I have three different topics going on. How can these things be related? This tension gives rise to curiosity and a desire to plunge onwards into this already-long communication. At this point, the audience is looking for resolution.

There's a third which is not unique, but certainly prevalent amongst my friends. And that is this: you like to see a fat man suffer.

Ah. Humor. Self-deprecating humor. Certainly part of the "DHK brand". At this point, you're fully immersed. The brand relationship is reinforced (for good or for bad) and we have emotionally retreated from the "cancer is awful" sub-plot but while still retaining audience engagement.

So, "When Butter Knives Attack", the link above, is the first part of this compelling call to action. The second part, below, is, I think you'll agree, a carefully crafted appeal to those who know me best, and understand the worst and basest parts of me the most.

I'm ransoming beer. There you go. For every $50 that is raised between now and 5pm tomorrow, I'll donate a 6 pack of beer to the worthy cause of your choice. If that worthy cause is you, so be it. I will ride to your place of work or home, carrying the beer in an refrigerated container and deliver it to you. I will shake your hand and thank you and then, and this is the part that kills me, Leave. Without. Drinking. Any.

Further, I will not replace this beer in my cellar.

The Shock! The Horror! The Dreadful Inhumanity of it all. Two things happen

  1. The intellectual tension is resolved.

  2. If I'm offering to give up beer it must be important to me

  3. This is funny. Cancer's not a funny subject; believe me. And fundraising is not a joke. But if we can leaven the mood, why not?

I. Will. Go. Without. You will know, while you're enjoying your frosty malted beverage, that I am without beer. There will be a fleet of trained medical professionals on hand in case I go into anapaleptic shock, or whatever.

Now, for the terms and conditions

  • It has to be beer. Good, decent American beer. Preferably micro brews. No fizzy Belgian fizz water, no rice-based concoction, nothing I wouldn't drink myself. We'll negotiate according to your taste preferences. After all, this should be fun.

  • You can't live more than 25 miles from a BART or MUNI stop. After all, it's 50 mile round trip with a six pack on my back and a keg on my stomach.

And now for the denouement, and, critically, the call to action.

Interested? Compelled? Horrified? Still here? Well, if nothing else, my material is holding your attention, so if you're smiling, then I've done my job.

You can make a donation at

Quick note: if you've already pledged support to me this year I apologize - I'm trying to keep my InBox Irritations to a minimum; so I’m trying to keep duplicates to a minimum

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