Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Fundraising newsletter

This is the FIRST MONDAY Fundraising Newsletter emailed monthly

Tip of the month - Proven techniques or old hat?

We examine 5 so called "proven techniques" and put them to the test:

1. It is vital to send a thank you letter after every donation. Believers in 'relationship fundraising' will often preach that it is vital to send a thank you letter in response to every donation in order to 'build a relationship'. Some practitioners modify this and only send thank you letters to donations over a minimum amount -say £5. However, when donors are asked if they want to receive an acknowledgment of receipt of their donation, most decline. The main snag with sending thank you letters after every mailing is that it makes it difficult to increase mailing frequency much above 6 mailings a year. The thank you letters create a gap in mailing and thereby increase the gap between asks. This goes directly against the main driver of response which is recency. We say 'don't send thank you letters, unless they themselves contain a further ask for money'.

2. Always add a PS at the end of appeal letters. Some people nowadays think that a PS looks amateur and disorganised and in the day of computers which can easily amend letter text, unprofessional. A PS at the end of a letter belongs to the age of the quill pen, they say. We say that a PS really acts as an introduction to the appeal. It is one of the first things the reader takes in and it adds to response to re-state the key proposition of the appeal in the PS. Old hat or not, the PS still works hard for you. But then this is just one of many examples of just how counter-intuitive direct mail often is.

3. No-one has time to read long letters any more. Keep it short and to the point.Well, it is true that even grannies are busier than ever these days. The fastest growing sector of the internet market is among over 60s. And with so much family break up, they often have to do stand in parental duty. So its true, their time is just as short as anyone else's. But consider this. Any salesperson worth his or her salt will try and get the sales prospect alone, one-to-one for as long as he or she can manage. They all do it, from high ticket Financial services to double glazing. And why? Because a person only buys from someone they trust and trust takes time to build. So even if you can summarise your appeal on one side of A4, you might want to try a long letter - 4 or 6 pages some time.

4. Teaser copy on an appeal envelope is a must. It is a vital part of getting attention.The old rule of thumb called 'AIDA' (Attention, Interest, Desire, Conviction, Action) is still applied by many seasoned direct mail copywriters. So doesn't it pay to tempt the reader with a snapshot of the story waiting inside the envelope? Well, this may well be the case if you have something really startling to flag up on the envelope. But on the other hand, what could be more intriguing than a personally addressed letter in a plain white envelope that gives nothing away? Do some tests and find out which is best for your charity.

5. Ask nicely and donors will respond generously. Brits don't like pushy fundraising.Interesting one this. Intuition would suggest that it pays to be polite, especially with warm mailings to existing donors. Even to the extent of adding a few extra thanks for past donations. Experience suggests otherwise. In fact, it seems that donors respond more generously the more directly and urgently a warm appeal is structured. In fact, it seems that it is a mistake always to structure warm appeals differently from cold donor recruitment mailings. Another example of how direct mail so often does the opposite of what you might expect.

Check out the website: for FREE Expert Fundraising Guides.

Tip of the Month

When writing a fundraising letter, get to the point early in the letter. Never begin with an interesting story. You'll lose them. Tell them that you are writing for their help right off the bat.


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