Boost Your Appeal Letter’s Response Rate

If you want to boost the response rate of your fundraising letters, here are 3 ways to make it happen. The first thing you need to do is offer more than just the standard donation appeal letter reply device.

How To Boost Your Response Rates

Fundraising consultant and expert copywriter Alan Sharpe explains exactly what you need to do to double or triple your fundraising letter’s response rate by making it easy for people to give, telling them how much you appreciate their donation, and going into more detail about just what is needed to help your cause.

Three Ways To Boost Your Direct Mail Fundraising Letter Response Rates

What percentage of your donor base sends your organization a gift each year through the mail? If you are at all typical, less than half of your donors at any given time are active. So how can you increase the percentage of your donors or members who participate in your fundraising? Here are some ideas.

1) Offer more than a reply device

Donors like to give in different ways. So offer as many ways as possible for your donors to send you a gift. Consider these other methods to boost your response rate:

  • Special donation page on your website
  • Provide a toll-free number for phoned-in donations
  • Add a special Donate Now button in your email newsletters
  • Offer payroll deduction by employer
  • Include a remittance envelope with your newsletter
  • Use a reply device with an automatic monthly gift from their bank account or credit card plus a postage-paid return envelope

2) Keep donors and members informed – and motivated

Why do annual donors stop giving? Many quit because they feel unappreciated.

In her book, Thanks! A Guide to Donor-Centred Fundraising, Penelope Burke cites the findings of The CPP Survey on Giving, Volunteering and Participating, which shows that around 45% of donors “stop giving or give less than they could have… for reasons that are tied to lack of meaningful information or to a feeling that their giving is not appreciated.”

Wise stock market investors read the stocks page in the business section. They want to know how well their investment is performing. They attend annual shareholder meetings for the same reason.

Today’s donors are the same. They mail your organization a gift that pays no interest and returns no dividend but they still think of it as an investment.

What they want in return is news from you on how well their investment is performing. They want proof.

Next to receiving no thanks at all, nothing infuriates donors more than being asked for another gift without knowing if the last one they mailed made a single bit of difference.

So keep your donors informed-using newsletters, updates, photos, email bulletins, annual reports, phone calls and more.

3) Write a longer letter

Tests show that longer direct mail fundraising letters often pull a higher response rate than shorter letters (one-page letters, for example).

You’ll need to test this with your organization to see if your test generates the same result. If you generally mail one-page letters, go for two pages.

If you usually write two pages, try four pages. Just make sure your longer letters remains factual, informative, compelling and donor-centred.

About The Author

Alan Sharpe, CFRE, is a fundraising practitioner, author, trainer and speaker. Through his weekly newsletter, books, handbooks and workshops, Alan helps not-for-profit organizations worldwide to acquire more donors, raise more funds and build stronger relationships. Sign up for “Sharpe Tips,” Alan’s free, weekly, email newsletter, at © 2010 Alan Sharpe.

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Use Powerful Postscripts In Your Fundraising Letters – Ten easy ways to maximize your donation request letter response rates – Why you should also add powerful postscripts to your fundraising letters.

Eight Donation Letter Tips – Eight tips on writing a great donation letter – How to craft your appeal letter with a personal touch and increase your response rate. Always use the word you!

Fundraising Letter Envelopes: How To Make Them Irresistible – The best way to increase the response rate of your fundraising letters is by making your fundraising letter envelopes simply irresistible so that they get read. And how do you do that? By creating a vivid picture in your readers minds that makes them eager to tear open the envelope and find out more.