Working on your year-end appeal? Reworking and editing your copy? Thinking about your letter and package design? Great! But what about your reply card or remit envelope?
Have you paid equal attention to this most important element of your fundraising package? Or do you wait until the very last minute, treating it like a nuisance or an unimportant chore?
Way too often I see folks spend endless hours crafting their appeal letter, only to fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to the response devise. This is a huge mistake.
Why? Because your reply piece is like the cheese in the children’s ditty The Farmer in the Dell . It STANDS ALONE.
It’s your job, however, to make sure this particular piece of cheese doesn’t end up sad and forlorn like the one in the children’s game (remember how no one wanted to be that cheese at the end?). It’s your job to make this piece of cheese tough and self-sufficient.
The cheese is the centerpiece of The Farmer in the Dell — all that’s left after everyone else has exited. That’s the way it is with your reply card too.
I actually recommend you begin with your reply card. Why? Because often folks will throw your letter away; then save the reply card to make a decision when they pay their bills or sit down with their family to consider all their charitable giving for the year. And guess what this means?
Your reply card and/or remit envelope must make the case standing alone!
USE A REPLY CARD/REMIT ENVELOPE THAT SELLS
Think of your reply device as a stand-alone, mini-appeal. With the letter long forgotten, unless you make a compelling case for support in the little piece of your appeal package that’s left, you’re going to risk losing the gift. It doesn’t matter how persuasive you were in the letter at this point. The only thing the donor will consider at this point is what you’ve included on your response piece. So…
- Include a compelling photo that tells a story; use a caption if this helps to make an emotional connection.
- Put a heading on the reply card such as “Yes! I want to feed hungry children!”
- Include a big check-off box next to your heading; interactivity gets folks more engaged and invested.
- Include a succinct one-sentence summary of your case using active verbs, such as “Timmy and thousands of kids like him will go to bed with full tummies tonight, because you care”.
- Show the specific impact of gifts at different levels; use check-off boxes again here:
o $30 will feed a hungry child breakfast for two weeks.
o $250 gives a victim of domestic violence and her two children food for two weeks.
o $500 provides home-delivered meals for a month to a wheelchair-using senior.
- Pre-print the donor’s name and address on the reply form.
- Limit the amount of information you request from your donor; if it’s too much work, or starts to seem nosy, they’ll put it aside.
- Use paper stock that’s easy to write on.
- If there’s an adhesive seal, make sure no important donor information gets lost when the envelope is opened in your mail room.
- Include a list of opportunities to designate gifts for particular programs.
- Include a check off for the donor to indicate they’d like this gift to be in memory/in honor of a loved one; leave space to write the loved one’s name.
- Use 14-point font so everything is readable.
- Tell the donor how the check should be made out.
- Include your website donation page URL in case they decide to make their gift online.
- Include a postage paid business reply envelope (if you want, you can test this against reply envelopes without postage and see which gets a higher response rate; in my experience postage paid gets better results).
- Address the return envelope to a specific person or specific campaign.
USE A REPLY CARD/REMIT ENVELOPE THAT ENGAGES
You may also wish to consider including a few elements that actively engage your donor. The Publisher’s Clearinghouse folks know a thing or two about getting folks involved, and that’s why they include all sorts of stickers for folks to affix in different places. You don’t have to get this fancy, but consider a few of the following:
- Include a box with room for handwriting that asks a single, succinct research question, such as “What one word would you use to describe [your organization’s name]?”
- Include a check-off where folks can indicate if they’ve made an estate plan provision for your organization.
- Include a check-off where folks can indicate they’d like more information about something (e.g., volunteer opportunities; events; legacy giving; monthly giving club).
Do you have other tips to make your response device as compelling as possible? Please share!
Make Sure Your Appeal Letter Shines Too!
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