Creative Cautionary Tips

Larry Montali on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

When it comes to creative in your direct mail fundraising, sometimes what seems like a great idea may not turn out to be. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when creating your next fundraising appeal:

To tease or not to tease?
Teasers on the outer envelope that refer directly to the offer/ benefit, or alert the donor about the free gift or member card inside often work best. If you’re just including a teaser to be clever, skip it. Your copy must be extremely provocative for this kind of teaser to work – and testing proves it usually doesn’t. “Blind” carriers – those without teaser copy or logos – often are the ones that win, especially in acquisition or for organizations without high brand awareness.

Caution with inserts
Have a great new insert you’re considering to include in your package – brochure, lift note, recent news article? Make sure you test with and without the insert.  While an insert might provide great additional information about your mission – they also might depress response. It’s counter-intuitive, but I’ve seen it happen too many times.

Focus on the big idea and not the window dressing 
Too often in the world of direct response fundraising, fancy design gets in the way of what it is you’re really trying to accomplish: convincing a donor that the non-profit’s mission is worthy of her support. I’ve found that a clean, simple layout almost always wins over something that’s flashy and over-designed (usually distracting from the readability of the piece). At the end of the day, the job of creative is to create revenue – not beauty.

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Conversion Contest Winner Selected

Rod Taylor on Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

We’ve received many great entries into our recent contest where we asked readers to submit their best ideas for converting new donors into multi gift donors. At this time of year when most organizations are doing their heaviest new donor acquisition drives we thought it was a good time to gather ideas on the best strategies for converting new donors.
In fact, we got so many good ideas we couldn’t select just one. So we’ve decided to award two winners. Both entries shared specific strategies that work for their organizations. One contest winner nailed the basics. The other came up with a unique approach that our experts thought was sure to work.
And the winners are….
Stanton Cadow (St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary/Boynton Beach, FL)
Don’t assume something you write in the second appeal letter will be read.  Understanding this, and the idea you will need to do something extra special to get their attention, do the following:
1. Within 48 hours of the first gift, the regular thank you and gift acknowledgement letter should go out.  An industry standard yes, but not always followed.  The carrier envelope should indicate some place on its outside, preferably on the front, a big “Thank you for your support.” Print in red or a contrasting color of your design.

2. When you have good reason to believe that letter has been received, place a personal thank you call to that donor, preferably using volunteers, students, etc.  Give them a script, but make it such that the call sounds, “unscripted,” thus increasing the genuineness of the call.

3. If you have not been able to capture a phone number, have those same volunteers write a hand written thank you, again, using a script. Mail first class, with the return address on the back envelope, thus increasing your open rate.

4. These steps will most certainly increase future appeal conversion rates.

Barbara Kehl (Wesley Community and Health Center/Phoenix, AZ)
Wesley Community Center encompasses many programs.  We have afterschool programs, a health clinic and a facility for ESL classes among other services.  So my suggestions are in line with those issues.
1. When approaching new donors consider making a plea for specific needs such as clinic supplies, band aids, flu vaccines, afterschool scholarships, garden supplies, ESL workbooks, etc.
2. When a new donor donates, an immediate and special thank you can be sent along with a current newsletter or annual report and a confirmation of how many flu vaccines the money provided and a note of continued needs, with an envelope for sending another donation.
3. Our nonprofit qualifies for the Tax credit so encouraging another donation by the end of the year for maximizing the Tax Credit can be addressed especially for Nov. donors.
We hope you’ll learn from these two great submissions and improve your own new donor conversion strategies. Thanks to all who entered the contest and if you didn’t win… better luck next time!

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