Webinar Follow-up: An Hour With Roger Craver
The issue, always, is one of willingness to invest … the time it takes to recover that acquisition investment … and the ROI an organization requires over a specific time period.
Q: Does an attachment stamp invite engagement/participation/partnership? Or stifle/delay response?
RC: As a general rule, attaching a stamp on a reply envelope increases participation and also speeds response. However, as in the case of all “general rules,” this should be tested for your organization.
Q: How critical is the type of paper used for the letter? Our organization always wants to use watermarked, four-color letterhead on everything that goes to donors. Can you comment on this?
RC: Your organization should cut out the expensive paper and use the savings to give you a raise for bringing up the question. Almost NEVER does the quality of stock make a meaningful difference in response or average gift. In fact, in some packages — urgent ones, action ones — “cheap” paper connotes speed and urgency. Watermarked paper connotes luxury and leisure.
Q: What is considered a good response rate to a nonprofit annual appeal?
RC: There is no “universal” good response rate. Most of the hundreds I’ve seen vary between 5 percent and 30 percent. Usually the smaller the file, the higher the response rate because, usually, small files represent hand-built files of very carefully selected prospects.
What is important in watching response rates is to see which types of appeals beat the norm and which underperform. Response rates are a fundamental vital sign on messaging and relevance.
Q: Did you say that, as a rule of thumb, direct-mail pieces should always be longer than a page?
RC: Yes, but only as a general rule. Sometimes a short letter can be powerful. In 1972 (during the Nixon-McGovern presidential race), the Democratic National Committee sent out a one-page letter: “Dear Friend. There are two reasons I need your check, and need it today: Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. Sincerely, Lawrence T. O’Brien."