We need a copywriter who can make people click with charities

Karin Weatherup | September 16th, 2015

We’re on the hunt for an experienced direct marketing copywriter who is supremely human in their approach to engaging people with the work that charities do.

What is it that makes people from all kinds of backgrounds unite around wanting to help Syrian refugees? How can you turn that into a crunchy opportunity to give? And how would you make that opportunity sing out as something people will want to do because it makes sense in their own lives?

We’re privileged to be given challenges like this all the time. It is the crux of what we do.

Having the most powerful themes on earth to work with makes being a copywriter here a very different kind of job. And it takes a different kind of copywriter.

You need to be able to come up with ideas that click with what matters to different audiences. And you absolutely have to be able to really write. Not just headlines, but long copy too.

You also have to be raring to speak to people from all walks of life about the experiences – often direct, sometimes lateral – that have made them want to support a charity serving a particular cause

The father who wants to protect his at-risk daughters from breast cancer, who is now fundraising for breast cancer treatments.

The elderly woman who, as a girl, was tortured in Burma, escaped and was fed and hidden each night by villagers – who would have been killed for it if they had been caught – who vowed never to turn away from anyone in need and sends cheques to lots of charities.

The CEO of a British company who was so encouraged at how artists working in schools were lifting the confidence and engagement of kids at risk of exclusion that he said, ‘as a Lib Dem I’ll give from my own pocket, not just the company’s’.

What other jobs let you go and see the work charities do so well up close, but which most direct marketing doesn’t even get close to conveying?

Spending a day with a 14 year old who’s been running away since 11, with the young social worker that is using creative ways of helping her learn how to keep herself safe.

The 93 year old D-Day veteran who tells you, matter of factly, how he only stopped working as a motor mechanic in his mid 80s, followed by how worried he’d been that asking for a grant for an electric fire might seem like scrounging!

The 16 year old boy trying to make a go of living in a housing association bedsit after his stepfather threw him through the living room window.

It’s a privilege. And so we take really seriously that our copywriters know how to interview people about often difficult subjects, unearthing the small things that light up what a charity is about, and write in a way that is very natural.

Yes, natural! Not what you associate with a lot of direct marketing, is it? Though I have to confess I have done my fair share in the past of those ‘Little Johnny’ opening lines in direct mail letters. Those headlines that talk at people instead of focusing on who they are and what’s in it for them, based on what they’re motivated by. And I have to put my hand up to having bashed intelligent people over the head with endless prompts and underlining years ago. At least the words ‘brighter future’ have never reached my copy. There are already enough of them in charity direct marketing to ring the planet 100 times. Yawn.

No. Copywriters here have to know the direct marketing toolbox inside out. But we’ve moved on from putting it right there in front of the poor people we used to browbeat with it. We use it subtly instead, in a very natural style. Because the world has moved on.

People don’t want to feel marketed at. They are tired of charity direct marketing as it used to be. They want authenticity, and to be treated like a grown up.

That’s not just a hunch. A more natural approach works. After all, that’s what direct marketing is about. Not doing something for the sake of it, just because it’s been done a certain way for years. A more natural approach gets results these days. Great results. From people you can actually call supporters, because they stay.

So please tell anyone you know who might be just right!