From the Ashes
There’s a lot to be said about failure. Mainly that it stinks. No, seriously — failure helps you appreciate success a little more, right? And on a less existential level, it can teach you a lot about what not to do next time around.
That’s no more apparent than in the world of direct-mail fundraising efforts. And from what we hear, it happens to the best of them. So to prove you’re not alone when one of your ideas isn’t as all-fire successful as you had hoped, here are a few failure stories from fundraising pros.
Hear Ye, Hear Ye … Don’t Traumatize Your Donors!
Submitted by Lynn Edmonds, L.W. Robbins Associates
The Campaign: The organization was a human-rights advocacy group. The mailing was a lapsed-membership renewal campaign targeting those members whose last donation was 13 months to 36 months prior. The strategy was to get the package opened by using a closed-face envelope with a provocative teaser (“stress-inducing” is probably a better way to describe it): Official Business SUMMONS.
The teaser’s formal, legal-style typeface was similar to what the court system uses for an official summons. The organization’s name was not included anywhere on the outer envelope. Only its address was included on the back of the outer envelope.
To play off the “summons” theme, the reply-card headline read, “I’ll stand by XYZ organization’s side in courts across America.”
The short letter also referred to the summons theme, stating, “This is the last time I can write to ask you to make your 200X membership contribution to XYZ organization. I’m hoping that perhaps just recently you sent in your check, and, if so, I am deeply grateful. But if you’ve been delayed in responding, please let me serve you, in honor and friendship, with this final ‘Summons.’…”
The Flop: The provocative/stress-inducing teaser did, indeed, get lapsed members to open the letter — probably frantically, right in front of their mailboxes, with their hearts pounding!