Just Slightly Contrarian: Oh, Woe to the Wimpy Reply Device
That’s why the reply form, all by itself, must be strong enough to rekindle that enthusiasm and re-ignite the passionate fires of emotion.
Ideally, you want the donor to make out the check immediately upon receiving the letter. If your reply device is so compelling that he can’t resist dropping everything and writing a check the moment he reads it, then you’ve achieved your purpose.
But get real
The vast majority of gifts are written during a bill-paying session. So let’s stop the world and consider the Basic Ingredients of the Reply Form. They are:
1) The name and mailing address of your organization and exactly how the checks are to be made out.
2) Statements concerning the tax deductibility and financial reputation of the organization.
3) A re-statement of the appeal in headline form. For example, if you’re raising funds for a new ambulance, the reply device might have the headline: “A Mercy Ambulance.” Whatever characterized your mailing package should be repeated on the reply form. Then you can have some statement that more fully details the nature of the appeal, such as, “Here’s my gift for the Mercy Ambulance and for all the other emergency needs facing our rescue squad.”
4) If you’re sending a premium, you might add a sentence saying, “Please send me one of your lifesaving posters on what to do when disaster strikes.”
Many times a reply slip will contain a picture of an individual who needs assistance, often the same picture that appears elsewhere in the package. Or the illustration can be that of the premium or, in the case of the rescue-squad appeal, a picture of EMTs in action at the site of a disaster.
5) The name and address of the donor.
6) If you’ve requested a specific dollar amount in the letter, this dollar amount must appear once again on the reply slip, along with an indication of the possibility of sending more than the requested amount.