How to build an effective response device

The most active ingredient in your direct mail piece is the response device. Here’s an education in response devices from Clairification: How Your Nonprofit Appeal Response Device is Like Cheese. (It’s like cheese because it “stands alone.” Get it?)


  1. Include a compelling photo that tells a story.
  2. Put a heading on the reply card such as “Yes! I want to feed hungry children!”
  3. Include a big check-off box next to your heading.
  4. Include a succinct one-sentence summary of your case using active verbs.
  5. Show the specific impact of gifts at different levels.
  6. Pre-print the donor’s name and address on the reply form.
  7. Limit the amount of information you request from your donor.
  8. Use paper stock that’s easy to write on.
  9. If there’s an adhesive seal, make sure no important donor information gets lost when the envelope is opened.
  10. Include a list of opportunities to designate gifts for particular programs.
  11. Include a check off for the donor to indicate they’d like this gift to be in memory/in honor of a loved one.
  12. Use 14-point font so everything is readable.
  13. Tell the donor how the check should be made out.
  14. Include your website donation page URL.
  15. Include a postage paid business reply envelope (test this; results vary).
  16. Address the return envelope to a specific person or specific campaign.

My advice? Always write the response device first, before you write anything else. That way, you know where everything else is going.


Comments

2 responses to “How to build an effective response device”

  1. If it’s in Canada, include the charity’s registered number.

  2. If it’s in Canada, include the charity’s registered number.

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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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