Needs, Wants and the Absolute Importance of Relevance
As for the letter copy, suck me in immediately with the story, and talk to me about your loved one and what happened. Help me feel as though I would have liked to have met your loved one. Gently remind me about how important it is to remember the loved ones we’ve lost. Give me the validation I need to make a gift, and you’ve got me.
Check your numbers
Make sure your numbers are relevant, too. How people respond to numbers is the subject of many studies and certainly a testable issue. We test different numbers all the time with ask arrays — but is that enough?
For example, would an attempt to raise $100,000 before the end of the month seem more reasonable to a $25 donor than needing $25 million in 72 hours? My guess is yes.
I would caution care with use of numbers in other ways, as well. For example, another recession appeal I received took a completely different form and approach. In a six-page, booklet-style letter dense with copy, the nonprofit’s founder and chairman describes the many times in the past 30-plus years the group nearly had gone broke. In each instance, one or more donors came through.
Now, though, because the organization is “four million dollars below budget and the deficit continues to mount,” and because it made a commitment to its constituents to “live within [its] means,” 200 staff members were “released” and more than 50 open positions will go unfilled.
My first reaction: I don’t want anyone to lose a job, and I hope those people and their families will be OK.
My second reaction: 200 people were let go and another 50 open jobs got axed? Just how many people work there, and what are they all doing if it’s so nonessential that they can be “released” and the organization is still able to carry out its mission?