Digging through my tickle trunk of direct mail samples that I collect from colleagues, friends and family can always be a reminder of good and bad practices.
We spend a lot of time talking about “asking for one thing.”
The idea is simple. I send you a letter asking you for $250 to help me buy a car. I explain why I need the car and what the car will help me do. I will remind you of the first time you bought your first car and I’ll paint a picture of what my future, thanks so much to you, will be like because you gave me $250 for my car.
As the donor, you have ONE decision: do you want to give me 0?
And when you get to the reply device or coupon, guess what better be there?
“Yes, John! I would love to help you purchase your first car! Here is my gift of <check box> $250.”
We see this simple principle ignored SO OFTEN.
Example (with all due respect to The Kidney Foundation):
Where to start?
First – Ditch the small 8.5″ x 3.5″ coupon. In testing, a full-sized 8.5″ x 11″ reply form will do far better in terms of response.
Second – The fact that this is a prospect piece makes sense for the gift array. If this was to a previous donor, I would want to ask the donor to upgrade their last gift. If they gave $100 last time, it might make sense to ask for <$last gift> (+25%), <$last gift> (+50%), <$last gift> (+75%) and “other $_____”, for example. But following my example above in the appeal for my first car, I had better only ask you for the $250 and perhaps “other $____”.
Third – The cheque and credit card payment information areas are good. Or are they? If I only provide a teeny amount of space for my amazing donor to write in her information, she may get frustrated, put it away and go back to her tea.
Fourth – If I have the space, fine — I can add the line about receipts. But 6-point type is REALLY hard to read for most adults, let alone my donors.
Fifth – Now we get into the check boxes to check! This one is asking if my donor would like a receipt. In English and French, for some reason. Now my donor is asking herself “Do I want my receipt? Why WOULDN’T I want my receipt? Is getting or not getting a RECEIPT a good thing? A bad thing? Maybe I should ask my family member or trusted advisor about that!” and she promptly puts the coupon down and goes back to her tea.
Sixth – Email communications. Yes! We all love getting our donors’ email addresses on file so we can then email them ALL THE THINGS! But my blessed donor now needs to decide whether to check another box or not. She doesn’t even know what type of emails you might send her and whether she might want them…and then she looks at the tiny space available (and BTW, I’m 42 and I can’t imagine trying to write my email in that space), so she puts the coupon down and goes back to her tea.
Seventh – Thank goodness my donor can unsubscribe from email communications that she’s never even received by emailing a generic email address or by calling an indirect line and seeing what happens. Fun!
Eighth – More check boxes! Asking more information about getting a receipt–this time by email. “Do I want to get my receipt by email or mail? Which is faster? Is there an advantage to one or the other? Oh! Hold on. Do I want to only get one receipt per year? What? How many do you send me if I just give you $35 now?” The letter I sent asking for my donor’s support made her feel great about donating. That’s why she started to fill out the reply coupon in the first place. Imagine how far away she is from those great feelings now…and we’re only on number eight. Possibly far away enough to put this down and go back to her tea.
Ninth – My donor can also make a gift online. She can put this down to make her way to the computer that she hasn’t checked since Monday, get distracted by an email notification, her cat climbing on the keyboard, or needing to use the facilities after all that tea and never get to my cause’s website to make that gift.
Tenth – “Be a Kidney Hero! It will make all the difference in the world.” I can’t even… But – can’t we even get one “you” in there somewhere?
Eleventh – Please see over… For more small boxes and lines? Why?
On the front side of this coupon alone, my wonderful, caring, cherished donor has 17 decisions to make.
I’m not going to look at the back, other than to say that in testing, we see time and time again that asking for a single gift and monthly gifts on coupons at the same time reduces your response rate and average gift. And the one or two monthly gifts I MIGHT get don’t come anywhere close to making up for that.
The point is: the more options my donor has to consider, or the harder I make it for them to fulfill their intention of giving to my cause, the more apt I am to lose them and their gift.
Ask for one thing, (using specifics, ideally), explain why you need it, what it will accomplish, and tell a story that shows that one thing in action so the donor can swoop in like the hero they are and give it to you! And then provide them with a giving mechanism that allows them to do that as easily and quickly as possible!
Ask for one thing. An essential #donorlove principle. (Principle #5 actually.)