You are probably in the midst of writing your annual appeal letter, having it read and re-read to ensure it says just the right thing. As you wrap up the writing, and even before if you are not quite finished, it is time to begin thinking about the envelope and the other stuffings that go in the envelope.
In addition to the letter what else will you include along with the letter?
It is always a good idea to include a response card in the envelope. The response card should include space for the donor to write their name, address and phone number as well as the gift amount. Be certain that when the donations are received that you doublecheck the address listed on the response card with the information in your database. This is the perfect time to make sure the database is accurate….there is no sense in sending letters to people who are not going to receive them.
The response card will also need to include space to write in the amount of the donation. Since donors like to connect their donation to a specific need in the organization, it will be helpful to show specifically what their donation can do for those you serve. For instance:
Your Gift of $25 will provide snacks for 100 children for one day.
$50 will provide food for a family for 3 days.
$100 will provide a family counseling session.
Think about the services and programs your organization offers to correlate donation amounts to a service provided. Always include space for other so the donor knows that other gifts are also accepted.
Important note—while we would all love to have large gifts, be careful about creating donation amounts that may be out of reach for your donors. It could create a situation where your donors feel like they really can’t help you, so they do nothing. Remember, it is your goal through the entire giving process to make your donor a hero.
If you have a donor base where donors have previously given large gifts, it may be helpful to create two response cards and segment your database according to the potential individuals have to give.
Research shows that donors give as much as 40% more when they are able to use their credit or debit card. For this reason, and to make it convenient for your donors, provide space for credit card information. Remember, you will also need a method of processing credit card payments.
In addition to the response card, you will also want to include a response envelope so donors can easily return a check to you. Use labels or have your organization’s address pre-printed on the front of the envelope to make the donation process as easy as possible. Fundraising research does not indicate there is any benefit to providing a postage-paid envelope. So, save some money and let a stamp be part of the contribution to the organization.
Plan now to get creative with the outside envelope. In bold font, print a deadline on the envelope to encourage donors to take action. On the back of the envelope, there is additional real estate for a quick message.
Sending an annual appeal that is effective takes careful thought and planning. Every element of the letter contributes to its success, thus, the entire package deserves your attention.
Next week, we will focus on using email as your annual appeal tool.