5 Fundraising Acquisition Tests With Legs
Trying to reduce fundraising costs by cutting back on acquisition is like trying to save money by buying fewer groceries. You might have a little more cash flow for a short time, but sooner rather than later your program is going to grow weak from lack of nourishment. It’s a solution that just can’t last.
But, like nutritious food, acquisition is a sizable investment in your long-term health, so you want to spend wisely and aim for a high ROI and relatively low risk. That means you need to test new packages often to make sure you’re getting the best response in the most cost-effective way.
Here are five direct-mail packages that have a history of success across a wide range of nonprofit organizations. Adapting them to your mission and message can help reduce the some of the risk that goes along with testing.
1. Matching-gift package
Organizations have used matching gifts for decades, and they’re still popular with both prospects and donors. Readers like the idea that their gifts will be doubled, effectively letting them contribute twice as much as they normally could. The perception they’re giving more and paying less doesn’t hurt either. They feel they’ll be seen as even more generous, which gives them an incentive to increase the amount of their gifts as well.
2. Annual fund
Funds and drives have a universal appeal for donors. They imply big-picture giving, they position the donor’s gift as especially important and they make the appeal seem more special. Because the annual fund is seen as a more top-down gift, you can create a separate fund brand to show this is a unique giving opportunity. (The brand can include its own graphic element, or it can simply be a type treatment using your approved fonts.)
Including a deadline date for the fund adds a sense of urgency that encourages the donor to respond quickly — which also has the potential to increase gift size since donors are giving while their emotional connection to the package is still high.
3. Sign and return (bounce-back) card
The bounce-back card is a time-tested response booster. The prospect is encouraged to sign the card and return it along with a gift. The card is then either passed along to a service recipient or displayed someplace public like the office’s lobby. It gives the donors a sense of being acknowledged and appreciated for their generosity.
Willis Turner believes great writing has the power to change minds, save lives, and make people want to dance and sing. Willis is the creative director at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He worked as a lead writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 15 years before making the switch to fundraising 20 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, and collateral communications materials that get attention, tell powerful stories and persuade people to take action or make a donation.