What the FOAC is wrong with my response rates?

by guest blogger Lisa Sargent, fundraising copywriter, donor communications specialist, and rabid defender of direct mail.

Before you shoot your copywriter because he or she hasn’t been the creative cash cow you hoped, I strongly suggest you consider this acronym for direct mail success — in order of priority, according to website SOFII

FOAC:


  1. Format.
  2. Offer.
  3. Audience.
  4. Creative.

Put another way (hat tip to the late Bob Stone, direct marketing legend), 60% of the success hinges on the List, 30% on the Offer, and 10% on Creative.

You may have heard 40/30/30, or 40/40/20. Or some other variation.

The point is this: List (aka Audience) always has more impact on success in fundraising than Creative.

So, for example, if your house list contains a bunch of names of people who haven’t given to you for 4, or 5, or more, years … if you lump your one-time event participants in with your loyal donors … and you spend good money mailing these people, over and over, in the exact same way that you communicate with your repeat givers …

Your direct mail will never perform the way you expect, no matter what kind of creative geniuses you hire. List matters more than creative, every time.


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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.