The easy secret to stronger fundraising

Here’s an easy way to improve results of your fundraising emails: Ask donors to do only one thing.

As the Emma Blog put it at How Choice Paradox is killing your email click rates, Emails with a single call to action (rather than several) can increase sales a whopping 1617%.

The choice paradox is this: While people like to have choices, choices can lead to indecision, which leads to the choice of none.

What that can mean in fundraising is when you ask donors to support the annual fund … and give look into planned giving … and register for the walk … and support the capital campaign …

They are more likely to give up entirely on all of them. And you lose.

The advantage of email is you can turn all those choices into one message each. In direct mail, that’s probably not affordable. You have to choose the ones that are really worth spending your money on, and drop the rest from your lineup.


Comments

4 responses to “The easy secret to stronger fundraising”

  1. Jeff, this is such a simple, yet powerful concept. It’s funny how “common sense” can have such an outsized impact on campaign effectiveness. Thank you for the reminder to keep it simple!
    One thing I’d like to add to the idea of “asking donors to do only one thing” is that the ask should be targeted for segments of your mailing list. With email there is no reason not to segment your mailing lists.
    For example if you have one “ask” or “call to action” in your email you should frame it around the giving capacity of your donor. If you segment your mailing list into three groups, “under $100 donors”, “$100-$500 donors”, and “$500+ donors”, you can ask for a specific, and realistic amount.
    The under $100 donors will see a button that says, “donate $50 today”, while the $500+ will see, “donate $500 today”. Give the donor one choice, and make sure it is within their reach.

  2. Jeff, this is such a simple, yet powerful concept. It’s funny how “common sense” can have such an outsized impact on campaign effectiveness. Thank you for the reminder to keep it simple!
    One thing I’d like to add to the idea of “asking donors to do only one thing” is that the ask should be targeted for segments of your mailing list. With email there is no reason not to segment your mailing lists.
    For example if you have one “ask” or “call to action” in your email you should frame it around the giving capacity of your donor. If you segment your mailing list into three groups, “under $100 donors”, “$100-$500 donors”, and “$500+ donors”, you can ask for a specific, and realistic amount.
    The under $100 donors will see a button that says, “donate $50 today”, while the $500+ will see, “donate $500 today”. Give the donor one choice, and make sure it is within their reach.

  3. Great add to Jeffs thoughts, thanks Zach!

  4. Great add to Jeffs thoughts, thanks Zach!

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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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