26 February 2014 Education continues to receive the lion’s share of South Africa’s national Budget, with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announcing on Wednesday that 20 percent of government expenditure for 2014/15 will go to education, amounting to R254-billion. Tabling his 2014 Budget in Parliament in Cape Town, Gordhan said the money would be used to increase access to schooling and improve infrastructure in the country’s schools, which serve nearly nine-million children. Gordhan added that 433 new schools would be built over the next three years, while a large chunk of the total education budget would go to provincial education departments to pay teachers’ salaries. Gordhan noted that access to free education in South Africa had increased sharply since the government introduced no-fee schools in 2007. Today, 60% of schools do not charge fees – up from 40% five years ago. According to the Budget Review, five-million children had access to free education in 2007. This year, the number increased to 8.8-million. In recent years, there has also been a sharp increase in the number of children who attend Grade R, while the national school nutrition programme now feeds 8.7-million children. The Department of Basic Education’s long-term plan to improve the quality of education focuses on literacy, numeracy as well as science and languages. The Funza Lushaka bursary scheme for students wanting to teach in public schools is intended to increase the number of qualified teachers. Last year, more than 3 000 graduates qualified for placement in schools in 2014. Post-school education and training accounts for about 21% of total education spend for 2014/15, with R21-billion set aside for university subsidies and R19-billion for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), which provides students with bursaries and loans. Gordhan said the allocation to the NSFAS would increase from R5.1-billion last year, to R6.6-billion by 2016. This would enable the body to increase the number of further education and training (FET) bursaries to 292 000, while helping more than 236 000 students to attend university over the next three years. Source: SAnews.gov.za
Sometimes a filmmaker just likes the color red — and sometimes a filmmaker is trying to tap into an audience’s raw emotions to stir a primal reaction to the images on screen.Movies stir up emotions in ways you might not even realize. The composition of each individual shot in a film is crucial, as are the ideas that come with these shots. Whether it’s a certain aesthetic choice made when coloring, or the wardrobe and objects with which the frame is filled, color can manipulate the emotions of an audience on many different conscience and subconscious levels.Obviously, colors can mean many different things and can be used in many different ways. There’s no right or wrong way to use blue, green, orange, etc. Finding an appealing and unique way to stir up feelings within your audience through the use of color is the real challenge. Let’s take a look at some of the different color motifs used in films and the emotions these colors bring to the surface.RedImage via A24The meanings and intent that accompany the color red can vary — but there’s no denying it’s one of the most powerful colors to use on-screen. On one side of the spectrum, red is used as a way to show aggression, violence, and anger. Take the image above. This abrupt moment in Alex Garland’s Ex Machina is when the film takes a 180 and crosses into the realm of sinister. The encompassing red glow signifies a fresh intensity and serves as a cue for the audience to pay attention because something crucial is about to happen.Image via MGMStanley Kubrick was a master manipulator thanks to his obsession with color. His most notable and aggressive use of the color red was with Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey. While inside Hal’s processor core, Dave slowly begins to deactivate the computer. This otherwise boring room is portrayed as a hellish end to a nightmare. This dreadful, inescapable feeling of impending death would be missing if not for Kubrick’s use of the color red.Image via AnnapurnaOn the other side of the spectrum, red often invokes feelings of love and passion. Spike Jonze’s Her is a perfect example of how a film’s entire meaning can be told nonverbally through shot composition and set decoration. The walls, clothes, computer screens — all red. The movie’s hero, Theodore, wears bright red, blue, yellow and white shirts throughout to communicate his emotional state. The entire film is a perfect example of why color theory matters.OrangeImage via NetflixThough often associated with warmth, energy, and humor, orange can also register a sense of warning and caution. The ancient religion Confucianism associates orange with transformation. The image above arrives at the tipping point of Beasts of No Nation — our hero is now a completely different person, almost unrecognizable as he trudges through the murky orange trenches.Image via Warner BrosThe entirety of Mad Max: Fury Road has an orange tint that serves to amplify the desolate apocalyptic feeling of the landscape. Barren, hopeless, and endless, the Mars-like texture truly sends the audience to another world as chaos ensues.YellowImage via Fox SearchlightDemonstrating feelings of happiness and relaxation (as well as jealousy and betrayal), yellow is as diverse as any other color. Wes Anderson is well-known for his use of yellow and red and has proven to be a master of set design and shot composition. The shot above (from the short Hotel Chevalier) was designed to communicate tranquility and peace — even if the characters struggle to recognize it.Image via Fox SearchlightAs Emma Stone’s character belittles Michael Keaton in Birdman, almost every object in this shot carries a yellow tint — from her hair to the chair sitting by her side. This striking yellow overload conveys a sense of danger, judgement and assertiveness. Michael Keaton is torn to existential shreds by the end of this emotional beating, and the room only furthers his embarrassment and shame.Yellow is such an outlandish color on its own, so an entire shot composed of yellow items will almost always be a direct statement from the director. Deciphering that statement is up to the viewer.GreenImage via FilmaxIn 2004’s The Machinist, mundane and dull everyday repetitiveness is put on full display with dreary colors and lifeless images. A green overtone will always work for the examination of monotony. This can also be seen in The Matrix as well. Pre-red pill, that is.Green also has the power to breathe new life into characters and audiences. Luscious greenery and earthly tones give off a sense of new beginnings and survival. At the conclusion of Gravity, Sandra Bullock emerges from the water to find a lush, brightly colored, oxygen-filled landscape that immediately signifies new life.Image via WarnerBrosJacob T. Swinney recently released a video essay that explores the ways the Coen Brothers use the color green. The video is highly entertaining and provides some excellent insight into how much thought goes into each and every shot of their films.BlueImage via WarnerBros.Faithfulness, loyalty, and childlike wonder shine throughout the Jeff Nichols sci-fi chase movie, Midnight Special. The main character is one-of-a kind in every sense of the word and is covered in blue from head to toe. As used here, blue, most often associated with positive thoughts, portrays innocence and purity.Image via Miramax VantageSticking out like a sore thumb from the rest of the dirty, beige, dry colors of Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, the heavy scene above finds the central character confronted with a harsh reality. His solitude literally surrounds him in this shot as he realizes just how alone he really is.Image via RadiusIn Only God Forgives, the central character’s detachment from reality grows as the film trudges forward. Separating from the all encompassing red that fills most of the film’s running time, Ryan Gosling is consumed in this blue light, isolated away from reality, sanity, and every other character in the film. A dark, unfamiliar scheme (blue in this case) that stands out from the rest of the film is a perfect way to demonstrate a character’s detachment.PurpleImage via Warner BrosSpeaking of Ryan Gosling, his directorial debut, Lost River, features one of the most seductive and alluring character entrances in recent memory. This temptress is engulfed by a purple backlight, exposing her sultry silhouette and immediately notifying the audience of her mysterious nature. Purple is often associated with ambiguity and extravagance. Both of these themes are featured in numerous ways throughout this film (slightly NSFW).Image via MarvelThe rare appeal of purple was exploited extremely well in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy — and other major blockbusters are following suit. Purple is mysterious and rare (much like the film’s purple Infinity Stone McGuffin), but using it appropriately can yield striking imagery that sticks with your audience for a long time.PinkImage via Fox SearchlightThe soft pink motif for the pastry shop in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel is more than it seems. The childlike romance between the two characters shown above, each wearing archetypal colors, comes to fruition in this exact shot. Surrounded by pink boxes, their innocent love blossoms. Wes Anderson’s compelling use of color is definitely worth exploring.Image via RadiusIn the breakout 2015 horror film, It Follows, we’re introduced to the main character who dons a pink outfit in a room filled with pink. The decision to decorate the room and character as such precedes what “follows” later in the film. Pink represents her innocence and purity. After a frightening turn of events, her innocence is lost — and the pink outfit and lighting disappear simultaneously.Violet/magenta/red/light pink — all of these can be associated with romance, love, and passion. Though they can carry other meanings and associations, the general understanding and consensus recognizes these as love-related.Image via UniversalThe decisions you make as a filmmaker to include or not include certain colors in your film are entirely up to you. There’s no right or wrong way to convey sadness, happiness, or fear. However, there are subconscious levels of primal emotion in your audience that can be triggered if color is used correctly. Like any decision you make in production, make sure it serves the story and engages your audience.What are your favorite uses of color in film? Share in the comments below.
I’m going to be speaking at the DMA Non Profit Conference next week. If you’re a Washington, DC-area native or are coming into town for the conference, come say hello.The DMA has asked me to share these details on the conference: It’s a great opportunity to gain insights into what other organizations like yours are doing in the fundraising world. Topics will include better ways to integrate your fundraising channels, build donor loyalty and improve your fundraising results. I’ll be speaking about what technology can and can’t do for fundraising. And toast and butter.Technology has enormous potential, but it’s all in how we use it. Technology is at its essence a delivery system. That means what’s being delivered will determine how much good comes of it. Adam Gopnik, a favorite writer of mine, compares technology to toast: “Our thoughts are bigger than the things that deliver them… Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn’t really about the quality of the bread or how it’s sliced or the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It’s about the butter.” He means the content of our ideas—the butter—is more valuable than the delivery vehicle —the toast of technology— that carries them. I’ll be talking about toast, butter and how to use technology in a way that drives more dollars.More details here.
3. Speak in story.Last, make sure you are describing what you do through story, not just facts and jargon. Stories make a cause relatable, tangible and touching. Remember, a good story has a passionate storyteller (you), clear stakes and a tale of transformation at its core. The NRDC, an organization focused largely on process and the work of lawyers and scientists, does an amazing job with storytelling all over its home page. There are heroes with a heartbeat to show every dimension of their work in stories. Many nonprofits have trouble making their missions relatable and exciting to potential supporters. I often get questions like this one from Deirdre:“As an organization with a mission that is a bit more abstract than, say, feeding hungry children or saving whales, we often struggle to make our work concrete. How can organizations dedicated to civic engagement or research create an inspiring story?”Whatever your issue area, these three tips will make your cause clear and compelling.1. Describe your mission as a destination.Don’t talk about your process or philosophy. Talk about your outcomes.Let me give you an example. Dan and Chip Heath, authors of Switch and Decisive, provide a great example from a breast care clinic as envisioned by Laura Esserman. She could have described her mission in ways that focused on the building or the philosophy. For example: “We are going to revolutionize the way breast cancer is treated and create a prototype of the next-generation breast cancer clinic.” Another poor choice: “We are going to reposition radiology as an internal, rather than external, wing of the clinic, and we will reconfigure our space to make that possible.” These all fall into the customary trap of talking about HOW your approach your work rather than WHAT the end result will be. (They also make the mistake of having no people in the description of their cause, but that’s the second point below.) What would be better? The Heaths nail it: “A clinic with everything under one roof—a woman could come in for a mammogram in the morning and, if the test discovered a growth, she could leave with a treatment plan the same day.” You can see the destination clear as day. 2. Give your mission a pulse.You have to talk about what you do in a way that makes clear its effect on people or animals. If you don’t have a heartbeat to your message, no one will care about your cause. Suppose you are advocating for quality schools. Don’t get so lost in descriptions of quality education and advocacy techniques that you forget to talk about kids! This is one of the most common mistakes I see. Always answer the question, “at the end of the day, whose life is better for what we do?” I like how Jumpstart talks about their work in early childhood education. They put it this way: “Working toward the day every child in America enters kindergarten prepared to succeed.”
“Fundraising is the F-word to many board members.” —Gail Perry, Fired Up Fundraising It’s all too common for board members to avoid fundraising for your nonprofit because it can cause a lot of anxiety—even downright fear. We asked Rachel Muir, vice president of training at Pursuant and founder of Girlstart, to share how you can reframe some common fundraising fears to help your board members feel confident every time they make an ask. Fear: If a donor gives to our organization, it might hurt them in some way. Truth: The world is full of generous people who want to give. The wrong approach to fundraising is feeling like you’re taking something away from someone. Encourage your board members to believe in abundance. We don’t have to look any farther than the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised $220 million. Before the challenge, that $220 million was sitting in people’s pockets and bank accounts, but that challenge inspired people to give. Fear: I’ll be rejected and fail. Truth: Ninety-five percent of the ask is what leads up to it. Think about a marriage proposal. You pretty much know the answer before the words are spoken out loud. It’s not how the question is asked; it’s all the work you did beforehand to build the relationship. That’s what gets you to yes, and it’s the same in fundraising. It’s what happens before the solicitation that brings a person to give. Getting a meeting with a donor, for example, is a very positive indicator. People won’t agree to a meeting unless they’re highly likely to make a gift. Ideally, you’ve been cultivating this person appropriately. It’s important for your board to remember that. The ask feels like the hardest or scariest part, but the real ask is all the work that happened before your board member invites the donor to contribute. Fear: I don’t want to put someone on the spot. Truth: Giving is a joyous experience that feels good to the donor. This fact is so important to remind your board. According to a recent donor engagement study from ABILA, donors feel the most engaged and connected to your cause when they’re making a gift. As donors, we tend think about how the person on the receiving end will feel. We’re excited about the organization opening the mail and finding our check. If we’re giving online, we’re excited about the nonprofit receiving the email announcing our donation. It just feels good to give. Ultimately, it comes down to reminding board members that they’re simply sharing their passion for your cause. They’re offering people an opportunity to make a real impact in the world. There is much to be given, and there is much to be had. Want more great advice from Rachel Muir to help your board members become fundraising superstars? Download the complete Nonprofit 911 webinar, “10 Tips to Get Your Board Fundraising in One Hour,” right now!
ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on January 23, 2014August 10, 2016Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The MHTF is pleased to announce the launch of our latest topic page: “Post-2014: What’s next for maternal health?” Along with our ongoing guest blog series on the proposed maternal health goal for the post-2015 development agenda, the topics page will compile key findings and debates on the position of maternal health in ongoing global and national discussions of health and development goals and challenges. The page includes resources on progress and lessons learned under the MDG framework, as well as on the position of maternal health in the ongoing process for developing the next global development framework. As with all of our topics pages, the post-2015 topics page will serve as a hub, featuring the latest in research, news and debates. To recommend a resource, please contact us. If you would like to submit a blog post for our ongoing guest blog series on proposed maternal health targets, please email Andrea Goetschius: firstname.lastname@example.orgShare this:
ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on April 24, 2014November 4, 2016By: Rose Mlay, National Coordinator, The White Ribbon Alliance TanzaniaClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Throughout my career as a midwife, I am all too familiar with the challenge of women arriving too late to the hospital to give birth. Over and over again, I have attended to women who had traveled for days to reach care. It is so heart breaking to know that these women’s lives could be saved if only they could reach quality professional care faster. We, at the White Ribbon Alliance, have advocated strongly over the years to our government in Tanzania to focus on maternal and newborn health, and great promises have been made! Now, we are faced with the challenge of making sure these promises are delivered. And we are working hard on that front!In recognition of the one-year anniversary of the publication of the Manifesto for Maternal Health, I’d like to take this opportunity to share some of our recent efforts to ensure that promises to women and newborns are kept.Just last year the White Ribbon Alliance Tanzania brought together national leaders engaged in maternal and newborn health ranging from the media, government, non-governmental organizations, and professional associations to set out a strategy for holding the government of Tanzania accountable for delivering on commitments made to our women and newborns. More specifically, we collectively set out a plan for holding the government accountable on promises to provide comprehensive emergency obstetric care (CEmONC) in at least half of all health centers by 2015. Together, we concluded to focus our efforts on the commitment to CEmONC because we listened to our citizens who have asked for these services to be closer to their homes. In addition, we know that the majority of the 24 women who die every day in childbirth die due to the lack of access to quality emergency care.In order to make our case, we knew we would need strong evidence to show the government just how off track their promises are, so we carried out a full facility assessment in 10 government-run facilities in Rukwa region. We engaged with community leaders, media and district officials as we moved through the region. Rukwa is beautiful with its rolling hills and great lakes, but it is a treacherous journey through the dirt tracks to get to rural health centers, with many being so remote that they are out of reach of telephone signals.As we gathered the data, we found that for a population of 1 million people, and over 10 health centers throughout the district, there was not a single health center that was providing the level of care that the government had promised.According to plan, we shared the evidence with the district government teams, and we pushed the district leadership to budget adequately for emergency obstetric care. In the meantime, we also set up meetings with national leaders and the Parliamentary Safe Motherhood Group to make sure emergency obstetric care is budgeted for adequately in the 2014-2015 budget cycle.We also made this film about the situation in Rukwa which Dr. Jasper Nduasinde, our White Ribbon Alliance focal person from the region took to the United Nations General Assembly to get global attention on the gap between promises and implementation.We called on our politicians to act. The Safe Motherhood Group in Parliament is working to get all politicians to sign a petition to the government to prioritize this issue.We called for a meeting with the Prime Minister. We spoke for an hour and a half on what could be done now to change this critical situation. He promised to take action.We also made this film about Elvina Makongolo, the midwife in Mtowisa who works tirelessly to save women’s lives.As we move to make these critical changes happen, we are faced with very sad news that motivates us even more. Shortly after this film was made with Elvina, the teacher of her grandchildren died in childbirth. Leah Mgaya died because Mtowisa health center does not have a blood bank. In the maternity ward of the health center ,a big refrigerator stands tall but the electricity to power it is missing. The closest blood supply is 100 km away at the regional hospital, reached only by a 4×4 vehicle due to the rough terrain.Leah’s husband, Cloud Kissi, said: ‘My wife has left a big gap in my life and she has left three children without a mother. It has left me with trauma as every time I see a woman carrying a baby I feel that if my wife could have survived, she could have been carrying a baby like the one I am seeing. I am quite sure that if we had a good operating theater, availability of safe blood and a reliable ambulance, we would have surely saved my wife’s life.’We continue to hear the personal accounts of husbands losing their wives, children losing their mothers, families losing their aunties, sisters and nieces and, in Leah’s case, a community losing their teacher. Citizens want change and they are pushing for it.In Rukwa alone, over 16 thousand citizens have signed a petition pushing the district officials and their MP to prioritize a budget for CEmONC.Recently, on White Ribbon Day in Rukwa, the Minister of Health spoke on behalf of the Prime Minister to say that this budget must be prioritized across the country.We now believe that the Prime Minister has become this campaigns’ greatest ally! And we know that our President Kikwete cares about the women of our nation. He has committed greatly to preventing these tragic deaths. But we cannot let up until women can access emergency life saving care near their homes. It is their right.As critical decisions are being made on budget allocation for 2014-2015, we are urging our leaders to listen to the citizens of our nation and budget adequately for comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care.If you would like to share your in-country story with us, please email Natalie Ramm or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.Share this:
ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on January 14, 2015December 7, 2016By: Belkis Giorgis, Global Technical Lead for Gender, Management Sciences for Health (MSH); Fabio Castaño, Global Technical Lead for Family Planning and Reproductive Health, Management Sciences for Health (MSH)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)This post is part of the Woman-Centered Universal Health Coverage Series, hosted by the Maternal Health Task Force and USAID|TRAction, which discusses the importance of utilizing a woman-centered agenda to operationalize universal health coverage.Who is accountable for the young woman dying during childbirth in a hospital in Lusaka, Zambia? For the woman in a health center in Bugiri in Uganda? For the girl child in a rural home in Uttar Pradesh, India? In a shanty town in Tegucigalpa, Honduras? Who is accountable for the women and adolescent girls in a thousand places everywhere?The burden of ensuring safe delivery does not fall solely on the shoulders of women and girls, but falls on all of us. Whether we are policymakers, service providers, development workers, husbands, fathers or mothers-in-law, we can all make a difference. It is our responsibility to do so. As a society, we owe it to women to ensure they have a safe delivery and access to family planning information and services.Complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among women and female adolescents in their reproductive years in low- and middle-income countries. Both family and cultural structures, as well as the health system, fail many women and girls, especially those living in rural and hard-to-reach regions. This is evidenced by the father who married off his daughter when she was a child, the husband who would not let his wife go to a health facility and a lack of affordable, accessible, quality facility-based care. These factors—in addition to ill-equipped clinics, poorly trained health workers and cultural perceptions that childbirth does not require skilled care—contribute to the high maternal mortality rates in developing countries.We have the responsibility to hold policymakers accountable for reforming health systems in pursuit of universal health coverage (UHC), which will transform populations’ health and save women’s and children’s lives. UHC shifts the burden of health costs from women to society and in a small way, shows our gratitude to women for giving life. UHC recognizes that women should not be neglected when they give birth and that women should not die while giving life. The responsibility of caring for women during delivery is a societal debt paid partly by eliminating the obstacles to safe, skilled and respectful care during childbirth.Because women often bear the greatest share of the economic costs associated with their families’ health, UHC can also have a proportionally greater effect on women by dramatically reducing their out-of-pocket costs and offering financial protection.Low-income countries must start with modest but high-impact services. A core package of services for reproductive, maternal and child health driven by community health workers provides the logical cornerstone of UHC plans.Family planning should be non-negotiable and included in even the most frugal UHC plans. Everyone has the right to access family planning services, which includes the ability to choose when and how to utilize a variety of options. Fulfilling the unmet need for family planning alone would prevent 150,000 maternal deaths and 640,000 newborn deaths globally each year.Through UHC, health systems can be strengthened to ensure that frontline health workers are in the right place at the right time to deliver the right services effectively.Who is accountable? We are. UHC that delivers for women and girls in the post-2015 era requires us all to be accountable. We must embrace this responsibility to accompany, support and empower women and adolescent girls on this journey fraught with both barriers and possibilities.Share this:
Let them know you care about more than their wallets. A good direct mail campaign is part of a comprehensive communication strategy. Ensure you are communicating with your community year-round, sharing the successes made possible through their support. Invite donors and potential donors to participate in events, volunteer, receive your newsletter, or follow your blog. But you should still respect their wishes. Give them the opportunity to ‘opt out’ of communications they don’t want, while still receiving the ones they do.Direct mail still matters. Take the time to be strategic and intentional with your direct mail efforts and you will see return on your investment. Your community will grow and your fundraising results will increase. Build a campaign page on your website that mirrors the core message of your letter.Shoot a brief, 2-minute video to share on social media.Send an email that will arrive within a few days of the expected letter arrival.Write a blog post that speaks to the same core message that is within your email appeal.Plan social media posts in and around the letter timing, to lift the message.The days of a one-and-done letter being effective are gone. When you are sick of hearing the message, it will begin to penetrate your audience. Make it as easy as possible for them to reply. Include a self-addressed envelope with postage on it if you can. (A U.S. Postal Service indicia makes it easy and allows you to only pay for those that are returned.) Also, make it easy for them to give online by including a direct and memorable URL that goes directly to your donation page. Make a compelling case and cast donors as the heroes. It is one thing to ask for money and quite another to invite people to join you in making a real difference. Are you ‘selling to them’ in your letter or offering them an amazing opportunity to partner with you for change? Think about what your donors care about and use your letter as a place to explain what you are doing about it. And a good direct mail appeal will answer the questions, “What’s in it for me?” and “Why should I care?” for the donor. Test and measure. After a campaign’s completed, take time to learn from it. Review your results, process what you’ve learned, and respond to feedback.Find out the percentage of people who responded and how many gave online as a direct response. This is easy to track if you have a branded donation page and have analytics on your website. If you don’t yet have these capabilities, then determine if you had an increase in online donations while your campaign was happening.Need a donor management system or branded donation page to help you track your campaigns? Talk to us!Other good questions to ask include:What number of donors responded to each list?What was the average gift size?What did you spend on the production and mailing vs. the return received? Keep it simple and be concise. People are scanners. When they open your letter, if it is a sea of black type with no ‘design,’ they’ll lay it down and never read it. Or, they’ll just scan the first sentence of a few paragraphs and miss your core message.Just like a good sauce needs to be boiled down, reduce your message to as few words as possible. That means edit, then edit again. Use short paragraphs and bullet points. And always include a call-out box or a P.S. that hits your main point, as these are always read first. Cut through the clutter with layered messaging. From emails and text messages to Facebook posts, we are constantly bombarded with information. That’s why it is important for you to develop a layered communication strategy to compliment your direct mail campaign. Here are a few ideas: A solid development plan used to rise and set around direct mail, and while there are many new fundraising channels available today, direct mail can and should still be an important part of your plan. Here are seven steps to executing an effective direct plan campaign that’s also integrated into your overall communication and fundraising strategy.Begin with good data. Solid data management is the bedrock of effective direct mail. We all know how easy it is personalize content, so never start a letter “Dear friend.” People who receive your piece should feel like they are on a first-name basis with your organization. As best as you can, track relationships: Bob and Jane are married (Mr. & Mrs.), but Jane and Tom are mother and son (not Mr. and Mrs.). Try to capture birthdates so that a 5-year-old event participant doesn’t get an appeal.Data can also help you personalize what your piece says. For consistent givers, start by thanking them for their ongoing support. For those who have lapsed, make a compelling case for why they should come back. For those that have never given, draw them into your mission and let them know that even a small gift makes a big difference.