From an email: “Jen, we need to have an opt out for our newsletter on the Fall Direct Mail Special Coupon. I think we need to include it in all of our mail coupons going forward.”
As Scooby-Doo says, “ruh-roh”.
Most organizations distinguish, even if it’s not completely deliberately, between a “renewal” message and a “special” message. Your renewal is your mission-based approach. Here’s what we’ve done with your amazing support, here’s why we can’t do it without you, and here’s what we’ll do with your support now.
Your special is about one thing. Here’s how you can make a transformative difference right now, take action about something you really care about. That’s it.
When we create renewal coupons, we ask about donor preferences – how do you want to hear from us? What else are you interested in about us? How do you want to be connected with us? We want that coupon to spend care and attention returning that coupon – they are defining their relationship with you. We want them to do it thoughtfully, reading and reflecting.
Special coupons, on the other hand, should get your donor excited, scared or even mad. Special appeals should not linger in your donor’s hands, or, even worse on the corner of their kitchen table or desk.
There are a few “feelings” considerations. Putting yourselves in the shoes of your donors is a hard thing to do, but it changes the way you make really important decisions.
Consider for a moment if you are a donor who has already asked not to receive the newsletter. And then they are about to give and see this note. They will hesitate, thinking, should I tick this? Don’t these guys know that I already don’t want it? They may feel that you are not talking to them. And then they see it again and again.
And consider the donor who does want to receive the newsletter, loves it, but is reminded at every turn that it is something they can opt out of. Couldn’t this devalue the newsletter in their mind? And this is also a “practical” consideration. The more times you ask, the more people will opt out.
It may save you budget, but will they have the ongoing content, feel a part of the community, be as connected to your organization as they could if they had the newsletter? Not to mention the fact that we have all worked darn hard to use the newsletter to share stories about our donors, invite them to reflect on their legacies, talk about monthly giving and more and more good fundraising stuff that that donors don’t get in the mail.
Your special mailings are not the place for tick boxes, opt-outs or asks for additional information. You can do that in your renewal, or even better, in your welcome letter (or welcome package).