Build Your Own Inspiration Wall or Swipe File

May 6, 2019

We’ve all been there. Staring at the flashing cursor on a white page, biting your nails and pacing the floor in an effort to summon all those creative juices from the depths of your soul.

It could be letter copy, a teaser, a subject line or an innovative design for a lift note or newsletter. As fundraisers, the pressure is always on to find something that will break through the fog of appeals, capture a donor’s attention and more importantly – inspire them.

Here in Ottawa we’re finally seeing the signs of spring. But let me tell ya – it was a long winter. (The city actually set records for snowfall amounts and extreme cold this year…it’s a prize that no one’s bragging about). There’s nothing worse than bleak weather to make you feel unmotivated and unimaginative.

There’s no shame in admitting that you need a source of inspiration. Ask the folks that work with me – I’m a huge proponent of a good old-fashioned brainstorm session when I’ve hit a wall. And part of that includes looking at pieces and products from other organizations and like-minded fundraisers.

Here at Good Works, we’ve recently created our very own “Wall of Inspiration” for those days when the creative juices just aren’t flowin’. It’s our own version of a swipe file – a collection of ideas, artwork and copy that you can literally “swipe” from.

Follow these simple steps to create your very own Inspiration Wall:

  1. Walk into your manager’s office and complain about the weather. Express frustration at an OE design that just isn’t “right”. You may or may not put your head in your hands…it’s a little dramatic, but optional.
  2. Exclaim, “I wish we had like, a WALL, where we could all share some of the unique pieces or ideas we’ve seen over the years.”
  3. Make the wall. (In our office it’s in the boardroom, with corkboard pieces and lovely lettering – thanks Jenn!)
  4. Start pinning!

Where to get Inspiration

Inspiration can be found in some of your favourite work from years past, but more often it will come from other organizations. Don’t limit yourself to not-for-profits either! Sometimes great ideas present themselves in marketing materials you see, in the for-profit work of sales or advertising companies. (One of my favourite mail designs is from a car dealership).

Ask your neighbours or friends to save their marketing and fundraising mail for you to browse through.

Or better yet, get yourself on marketing lists of your own by making a few small ($5-$10) donations to a range of charities.

Sign up for email updates and check “yes” whenever you’re prompted to provide a contact address. Subscribe to fundraising-related articles and blogs. (A few of our favourites are M+RReally Good Emails and of course, Good Works’ own monthly newsletter!

It’s worth noting that I’m not promoting plagiarism here – no one likes a copycat! But imagination and creativity can be contagious – so use your swipe file to soak it all up, and feel energized and inspired when you go back to the drawing board.

Happy swiping!

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Melanie Scholz

Melanie Scholz

Twin mom. Boy mom. Eats supper standing up. Fan of Jillian Michaels and HGTV. Lover of charcuterie, white wine and apocalypse-type movies.