The Oldest Fundraising Trick in the Book Still Works
Let's be clear, by the way, that a premium is not an involvement device. It's a bribe. A good, fair, honest and up-front bribe, but a bribe nevertheless.
When people respond to premium offers, they feel they're in a transaction. They're willing to support you, but in return they want more than just a feeling of gratification. They want something tangible that proves to others that they support you. But premiums are a two-edged sword. The reward is higher response, but the price is a less loyal donor.
Involvement devices, by contrast, keep the reader directly, physically involved with your message. They may not provide the same spike in results as a premium, but they also have less blowback in the long run.
Remember, there are no good or bad — or right or wrong — fundraising techniques. There are only those that work in a given circumstance and those that don't.
So definitely test new trends, strategies and ideas. But remember too that old standbys didn't get to be the old standbys by accident. They've stood the test of time for a reason. Donors may be more sophisticated now (or believe themselves to be), but the basic emotions that drive giving have not changed. And every extra second they remain involved with your message still translates into higher gifts and, more important, greater loyalty.
Willis believes in expressive writing, exceptional fundraising, and exuberant living.
Willis Turner is the senior copywriter at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He was an experienced writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 20 years before making the switch to fundraising nearly 15 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, as well as collateral materials and communications, that get attention, tell emotional stories, and persuade people to take action or make a donation.