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Book Review: Creative Deviations

It’s finally here: a new handbook on direct mail called “Creative Deviations.” It’s heavy, it’s filled with 286 pages, with nice large print, easy-to-read typeface, and lots of “yous.”

If you’re involved in direct mail, you simply cannot stop learning, trust me, I sure still am! So, when John Lepp told me he was writing his first book, focused on direct mail, I was very excited.

As you know, direct mail is certainly not dead, and it’s really proven its worth in gold during the pandemic. Sadly, there are so many myths, and so many times, we deviate from who and what is most important — the donor. Lepp addresses this several times in his book.

I loved his quote, because I think it’s the essence of what you and I worry about every day:

“Successful fundraising is like life. It’s about the 1,000 small (and sometimes annoying) things that you need to think about and make decisions about that will create unique experiences about the ‘artform’ of direct response!

It’s often the simplest and least high-tech solutions that can have the most impact on your donors.Acknowledge who your audience is and where you need to meet them – in your design, your writing, or whatever channel you are using. Put their needs around accessibility, readability, and comprehension before yours.Great fundraising programs embrace and cherish connections between humans. They make a point of reminding donors that behind that nice name and logo is a collection of humans fighting for and protecting the same things that your donor believes in.”

Lepp’s book is filled with so many great insights and a huge number of complete wonderful one-time gift, monthly giving, stewardship, and legacy giving examples. The creative is shown in full color, with every single mail pack element readable and copyable for you and your creative team.

Of course, I was tickled pink to see some examples of monthly giving approaches, which were adopted much earlier in Canada than here. I also loved his section on the 10 pillars of great relations between charities and consultants.

If you’re ready to send out fundraising appeals that raise more money than ever before, I highly recommend checking out “Creative Deviations.” 

Because as Lepp says: “Good design should be seen, should be understood, should be acted upon, and most importantly needs to get results — everything else is garbage. “ 

His book is a reflection of his 25-plus years working with nonprofits. He runs an agency in Canada called the Agents of Good, and he’s helped numerous charities in Canada and other countries with their creativity and strategy. 

In case you’re wondering, the first “Handbook on Direct Mail” was written by Siegfried Vogele many years ago. It’s hard to find a copy, but I was fortunate to meet Vogele in person in the early 1980s during my days at Reader’s Digest Amsterdam. That book was general direct mail. Lepp’s book is totally fundraising!

First published on Nonprofit Pro July 21, 2022

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