6 Baby Steps to Transition to a Full Direct-Response Fundraising Program
Baby step 3
Make it visually compelling. A full page or screen of long paragraphs, narrow margins and nothing to break up the content doesn’t cry out to be read. Use color, underlining and boldface, wider margins, indentation, and other visual features to make copy feel like an easy read. It’s not “assigned reading,” so we have to make sure it’s desirable reading. And make your photos large enough to communicate a message. A room full of people tends to look like a blob when shrunk to six square inches.
Baby step 4
Ask for a donation. This is one battle where too much compromise is deadly, at least to your success in direct response. You may not be able to begin by inserting a reply card and a reply envelope, having a link to a landing page, and making the ask prominent throughout the copy. You may have to tone back a bit, but don’t give up on this too easily. Address concerns without totally capitulating. People give when they are asked. It may be an uphill battle, but this should be the one hill on which you stand firm.
Baby step 5
Communicate regularly. Are you hearing, “But we sent them a letter three months ago and an e-news last month …”? Explain the importance of remaining top-of-mind for your donors when they have disposable income and an inclination to make charitable gifts. Talk about the value to the organization of donors who give multiple times throughout the year. Explain that you are building relationships, not simply soliciting transactions.
Baby step 6
Have a follow-up plan for new donors. Even if you aren’t actively engaged in donor acquisition, you’re going to get some new donors simply just by luck if nothing else. Put a dynamite strategy in place to get the second gift, the third gift and future giving that deepens the donor’s relationship with you. Armed with this success and facts about your own list growth (or decline), become an evangelist for intentional donor acquisition.