30 Ideas to Enhance Fundraising Direct-Response Creative, Part 2
As fundraisers, you all know the importance of messaging and message delivery. That's what makes creative in all fundraising direct-response appeals so vital.
At the Association of Fundraising Professionals' Fundraising Day in New York last Friday, three fundraising professionals, along with moderator Amy Tripi, president of Tripi Consulting, shared 30 ideas to enhance fundraising direct-response creative. Here are ideas 11-20 from the session "30 Ides in 60 Minutes: Your Hour of Creative Power" shared by presenters Luke Vander Linden, vice president and senior marketing at Carl Bloom Associates; Christine Shilosky, senior account executive at Mal Warwkick/Donordigital; and Lori Burns, senior vice president at Russ Reid. Check out the first 10 ideas here.
11. Make sure donors understand how much their individual gifts count
Donors want to know that their gifts make a difference. In fact, many of today's donors demand it as a prerequisite to give. They need to feel good about themselves and their roles as supporters, so clearly show the impact of their gifts in your creative. Tell stories. Share successes. Express need. And tangibly show how that one gift makes a difference.
12. Use testimonials and quotes for maximum impact
While the words you use as a fundraiser are important, nothing resonates quite like testimonials, quotes and referrals from fellow donors and/or recipients of your work. So use testimonials in your appeals, but make sure the endorser is credible and that the testimonial and/or quote conveys an emotional impact.
Here are some tips on testimonials:
- Limit length to convey only the pure essence of what must be communicated.
- Long testimonials can kill readership. Keep them short!
- Place them where they'll be noticed, but be careful. Ideal places include inserts and the back of reply forms, as sidebars or pop-ups on websites, or in the Johnson box.
13. Make it specific and personal
Your message has to feel personal and include specifics. In order to do that, write to one, individual person, and replace "we" with "I" — don't make the organization the subject of the sentence. Also, talk about real people doing real things.
Then, make an ask for a specific gift repeatedly. A good rule of thumb is to ask four times in the letter: within the first three paragraphs, at the end of page 1, at the end of the letter and in the postscript.
14. People need (and like) to be told what to do
Don't assume your donor knows what you want him or her to do. Spell it out. Tell donors specifically: "Donate now!" "Send your gift!" "Sign this pledge!"
Tell donors exactly what you want them to do.
15. Write a strong call to action
The call to action is vital in any direct-response fundraising campaign. Be specific, i.e., "Provide one Thanksgiving dinner for $1.97." Quantify a gift's impact, i.e., "$25 will feed one hungry child for a full week." Include a value-added component, i.e., "Give an extra $10 and we we'll include a toy." Set a deadline. And highlight offers like a matching gift to multiply the donor's generosity.
16. Give thanks
Acknowledging a donor's gift is so vital. It's the first — and one of the most important — step in donor retention, something that every fundraiser has to focus on. So make sure you thank your donors, and make sure you thank them promptly. A prompt thank-you is the most important factor.
Also, consider using multiple channels to send multiple thank-yous. Multichannel donors are the most loyal and most valuable, and sending multiple thank-yous is better than sending a single one.
In addition, as a best practice, fundraising letters should cite the donor's previous giving and generosity, as well as the difference the donor's gifts made.
17. Lapsed donors are still part of the family
Don't neglect lapsed donors who have not given recently but are still valuable to your organization. Not only does reactivating a lapsed donor cost less than acquiring a new one, but it also may simply be that the donor has fallen off for various reasons but still cares about the organization. So make sure to have a strategy for contacting lapsed donors to bring them back into the fold.
18. Upgrade your donors to maximize their value
Offer ways for donors to enhance their giving, whether it's monthly sustainer programs, segmenting them into new audiences, testing different timing, offering incentives for increased giving, providing different channels for them to respond to or even just making larger asks.
19. Some of the best fundraising letters don't ask for money
While it may sound counterintuitive, especially given the importance of asking in the sector, sometimes providing no specific ask in certain materials can bring in money as well. The key is to still have a way for donors to send gifts.
For example, newsletters, informational materials or annual reports can bring in revenue by simply including a reply envelope — no ask necessary. In addition, non-fundraising messages are critical for successful online programs, so include links to your donation page even if the call to action is not giving. And thank-you calls can often lead to gifts even if the purpose is just to say thanks.
20. Sometimes you have to 'take the money and run!'
Nontraditional donor involvement vehicles such as sweepstakes or raffles, while not ideal for mission-driven donors, can generate terrific revenue. For examples, raffle appeal respondents make up 46 percent of Consumer Reports' total fundraising revenue — 27 percent of donors give only to the raffle offer. However, the raffle average gift is 30 percent lower than mission donors.
For KQED San Francisco, it nets about $500,000 a year through a sweepstakes campaign. About 215,000 people receive the package, including active donors, lapsed donors and high-net-worth supporters, and there are four efforts throughout the yearlong campaign. KQED sends about 600,000 overall through the four efforts, and "early bird" prizes and deadlines are included throughout the campaign. About one out of every four or five entries sends a gift, and 51 percent of its sweepstakes donors only give to the sweepstakes campaign, while 49 percent also gave to mission-oriented appeals.
Stay tuned for ideas 21-30.