The nightmare that is copy vetting
All names have been changed to protect the innocent.
A client of mine — let’s call him Samuel — recently shared that fundraising copy vetting is the most stressful and time-consuming part of his job. “There are too many layers of vetting. Plus, it’s inconsistent. One day you can say something. The next day you can’t. I’m constantly going to bat to communicate in ways that will inspire and motivate supporters.”
Yes — when it comes to raising millions of dollars, Samuel is most concerned about copy vetting. What is wrong with this picture?
A few years back, every piece of copy I wrote for another client went before a “pre-solicitation committee” made up of two lawyers who had no fundraising or communications experience.
It always makes me think of this scene from Good Morning Vietnam.
Seamless copy vetting and approvals are crucial for a responsive, donor-centric program. And based on 15 years of experience with over 100 different clients, here are core themes of highly effective copy vetting:
(1) All people involved in copy writing and vetting are exposed to donor audience research so they understand the particular donor perceptions and attitudes.
(2) The more concise and systematic a process, the better. Typically programs that excel here have the following in order:
•One programmatic eye focused on accuracy of content.
•One marketing eye focused on brand consistency.
•One final decision maker.
(3) Timelines for review should be as short as possible. Typically, vetters have 48 hours with copy. In a rapid response situation, they should have 2 hours with copy.
(4) Typically vetters know what copy is coming done the pipeline each week and are notified on Monday when they will need to turn copy.
Copy vetting should be the least of Samuel’s worries. And yours.