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Write a Better Year-End Fundraising Email Appeal

A creative highlight of 2023

— Written by Laura Neill, Senior Copywriter at Marlin Communications.

As a fundraising copywriter, I have the privilege of telling powerful, meaningful stories. I want to change the world, and our clients give me the opportunity to put my love of words to that task.

Every day I work with organisations who are committed to making the world a better place. It’s my job to immerse myself in the information, stories and experiences that make each of our clients special – from prostate cancer research to refugee rights, climate change to rare childhood diseases. The one thing I continue to have reinforced is that, regardless of the complexity of a subject, a story, told right, can make it easy for someone to understand.

I fell in love with so many causes this year, but there’s one that holds a special place in my heart – the story of a tiny but mighty little fish, making its comeback from the brink of extinction.

The Red-finned Blue eye was the star of BHA’s Autumn Appeal, set in Queensland’s Edgbaston Reserve.

This little fish lives in the Artesian springs of the reserve. It can survive in pools of water just 5 deep. It can handle water temperatures between 3 and 38 degrees.

But when this fish was discovered, it was already close to the point of distinction. Ten years later, it existed in just two pools on the reserve.

These two pools were the only waters in the world where this fish could be found.

As part of my research, I spoke to Freshwater Ecologist Dr Dean Gilligan, who is in charge of restoring fish populations on Edgbaston Reserve. Thanks to supporters, he’s repopulated 10 pools with blue-eyes – and he’s aiming to have as many pools as possible filled with blue-eyes before he retires.

But the story didn’t end there (although I thought for a moment it did). Dean told me that the blue-eye’s ecosystem had changed so much that they are conservation-dependent. This means that their survival will always rely on our protection. There may never be a time when we don’t have to watch the pools, and guard these fish from the predators our ancestors introduced.

As an environmentally-conscious person, this story alarmed me. But as a fundraising copywriter, I loved it.

Why? Because this hardy little fish’s plight was a complete example of the bootprint colonisation has made on our precious natural landscapes.

It’s also an incredible story of how donors can have a tangible impact on bringing a threatened species back from the brink of extinction.

As Dean told me, “It’s a good legacy to leave behind that you’ve made the difference. I hear stories that my grandmother was alive when there were Tasmanian tigers, and there’s species declarations happening all the time. I think, ‘Oh geez, I would’ve loved to have seen one of those before they went extinct.’

“It’s about having the ability to say, “I helped stop the extinction of something”, that it’s there for future generations. And not just for human generations, but it’s there for its own values in the future. That’s a pretty fulfilling thing to achieve.”

I couldn’t agree more.