One thing at a time

When you go to all the trouble and expense to send your donors a piece of mail, you might be tempted to make your mailing do double or even triple duty. You know — just throw in a brochure or two to invite your donors to an event, encourage them to advocate for the cause, or nudge them to think about planned giving options.

I can sympathize.

But please — resist the temptation. Putting multiple calls to action in an appeal will kill response. It’ll do it to you every time.

There’s only room for one thing in a fundraising appeal, and that’s fundraising. If you try to do two things, you’ll cut response in half. If you try to do three things, it just gets worse.

Think of it this way: You have literally a few seconds to get a donor’s attention. If you try to get her to consider two different ideas during that tiny window of time, you’ll fail at both. You end up not making the case for either one. That’s the reality we live in with direct-response fundraising.

When you want donors to do things other than donate (and you should want that) find another way to tell them. The cost of saving money in this case is just too high.


Comments

2 responses to “One thing at a time”

  1. Dan Geaves Avatar
    Dan Geaves

    But it is worth considering whether the additional call to action supports the fundraising ask.
    Here in Australia some of the advocacy charities tested adding a letter petition to their fundraising appeals… and it lifted response and thus net income.
    And some other charities tested adding a “write a message to the benficiaries” (some of whom were in fact animals), and that helped the fundraising appeal raise more net income too.
    In both these instances, the additional “ask” clearly contributed to the same outcome as the fundraising ask. If you think your secondary ask fits that criteria… I’d recommnend testing it.
    By testing I mean splitting the appeal audience and exposing some to the 2ndry ask, and others not, and then comparing the results.
    And by splitting I don’t mean 50/50 of the entire audience… I mean 50/50 per segment.
    And by segment I mean excluding the top 200 whose donations you really don’t want to expose to the test.

  2. Dan Geaves Avatar
    Dan Geaves

    But it is worth considering whether the additional call to action supports the fundraising ask.
    Here in Australia some of the advocacy charities tested adding a letter petition to their fundraising appeals… and it lifted response and thus net income.
    And some other charities tested adding a “write a message to the benficiaries” (some of whom were in fact animals), and that helped the fundraising appeal raise more net income too.
    In both these instances, the additional “ask” clearly contributed to the same outcome as the fundraising ask. If you think your secondary ask fits that criteria… I’d recommnend testing it.
    By testing I mean splitting the appeal audience and exposing some to the 2ndry ask, and others not, and then comparing the results.
    And by splitting I don’t mean 50/50 of the entire audience… I mean 50/50 per segment.
    And by segment I mean excluding the top 200 whose donations you really don’t want to expose to the test.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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