A Tale of 4 Acquisition Efforts
In the past week, I have received four acquisition mailings (see the above slides). Two are from animal-rescue organizations that mail nationwide (Best Friends Animal Society and North Shore Animal League), and two are for local humanitarian groups (Union Rescue Mission and Los Angeles Mission).
There are definite similarities with some of the mailings — three of the four have four-color outer envelopes, two use No. 10 non-standard window envelopes and both local agencies have a price point on the envelope.
But there are definite differences, again evident from the outer envelopes. The Los Angeles Mission uses the small format, and North Shore Animal League encloses premiums (although I don't see them through the oversized window). Best Friends affixes "live" stickers to the oversized outer envelope, and Union Rescue Mission is the only one not using an indicia.
But get past the envelope (which only a small percentage of recipients of acquisition seem to do, judging by response rates), and the differences really show up. I like a lot about all four of these mailings. But, there are some things that stood out to me when I opened the envelopes to see the "heart" of the appeal that could hurt response (in my opinion) or at least not help it.
I admit I am taking a risk here — all of these appear to be some level of a control mailing since I have gotten them (or very similar ones) before, so they clearly "work" (however that is defined at the respective organizations). But "control" does not equal "perfect," as even the best copywriters will tell you. The unsuspecting nonprofit that picks up an idea from another agency without asking if it really seems like the best option risks a colossal fundraising flop.
So here's where I'd want to make some changes or at least test an option or two before I adopted these practices at another nonprofit.
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.