Faster Than A Speeding Donor
While time might be on your side if you’re the Rolling Stones, just the opposite is true if you’re attempting to raise funds through direct mail, online or on the Web.
When asking donors to give to your organization or cause, time is your largest obstacle and greatest enemy — assuming, of course, that all the other elements of successful fundraising communications are in place: a compelling reason for giving, a strong offer, a powerful emotional connection, and a persuasive sense of urgency. If any one of these elements is missing, then your time with a donor will be over before it even starts.
Direct mail: You’ve got 20 seconds
Most of us who work on the creative side of fundraising communications are familiar with the landmark scientific research in the field of direct mail that Siegfried Vögele conducted in the ‘80s. His eye-tracking and skin chemistry-measuring studies have provided a wealth of information about how people interact with and respond to various elements of a direct-mail package. For those who may not be familiar with Vögele’s work, I’ll summarize.
The heart of what he calls his “Dialogue Method” essentially states that much like a conversation in person, people also have a face-to-face dialogue with your direct-mail fundraising package, although it tends to be an internal dialogue. When a donor receives your mail, there are a number of questions she has that should be anticipated and answered, all in about 20 seconds time, including:
- Who is this letter from?
- What’s inside?
- How did they get my address?
- What do they know about me?
- Why are they writing me?
- Should I bother reading it?
- Do they really need my help?
- What happens if I do nothing?
The more of these questions you answer, the greater the likelihood of engaging the reader.