Asking in receipts: is it going to hurt you?

Donors give because they like to give.

If you don’t believe that, fundraising is always going to be an uphill battle for you.

You’re going to avoid asking, or you’ll ask in passive, unclear ways. You’ll miss great opportunities to ask because you think asking will annoy or even injure donors.

The often-repeated rule that you shouldn’t ask for a gift in the thank-you letter for a previous gift is an example of this. The controversy is outlined at Sharpe Tips: Does Asking for a Gift in Thank-You Letters Help or Harm? Test and Find Out.

Sure, if you’re worried about it, test it.

But really, don’t worry about it.

Including a “next gift” reply coupon (and return envelope) in receipts is a smart thing to do. Organizations I know that do this (and also have robust and prompt receipting) typically raise about 10% of their total fundraising revenue from receipt gifts.

Remember, the top indicator of likelihood to give is recency of the last gift. So when a receipt arrives, and the donor may still be feeling some of the “warm glow” of the gift — that’s a ripe moment for another gift.

There’s a type of donor who habitually turns around receipts. These donors typically have high frequency and superb retention. Without the reply coupon, you fail to meet this excellent donor’s giving habit.

My advice about the content of your receipts: Make sure it really is a thank-you, not an appeal with a receipt attached. Being thankful is the main function of the mailing. But making it easy to give is not going to hurt anything.

It’s a way to increase your revenue by somewhere around 10% at almost no extra cost. Who wouldn’t do that?


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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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About the blogger

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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