Fundraising involvement device: upsides and downsides

You can sometimes boost response to a direct mail piece by adding an involvement device — something that deepens the connection between the donor and the gift you want her to give.

It might be something the donor keeps as a reminder, like a bookmark, a tag that says “keep this for your records,” or a photo.

Or — and this can be even more powerful — it can be something you ask the donor to send back with her gift. Something that symbolizes the connection and the impact of her giving because it will accompany something the gift makes possible and be seen by the recipient. Some things of this type:


  • A gift tag
  • A bookplate
  • Greeting card
  • A “shipping label.”

There’s real power in involvement devices. They can jolt response upward. In some cases, though, they push down average gift.

The trick is to have a strong and clear connection between the involvement device and the cause. A get-well card can work if the offer is to help someone get well. A gift tag can do the job if there’s a gift involved in the offer.

Involvement devices that aren’t as well connected, like coins, can still boost response — just keep a close eye on results, to make sure you aren’t trading away long-term value form short-term response.


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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.