The 4 C’s Of Donation Letter Reply Devices

Your donation letter reply device must follow the 4 C’s – It must be Clear, Complete, Compelling, and Convenient. Failing to follow the 4 C’s of donation letter reply devices means that you have defective instrument, i.e. that your reply device is weak and ineffective at maximizing donations.

Donation Letter Reply Devices

And why are the 4C’s so important? Because without following them, you aren’t doing a very good job of providing an effective donation mechanism to your readers. Hence, your donation replies will be less and the amounts donated per reply will be less as well.

You’ve spent a lot of time crafting your donation letter and building your list. Don’t ignore the 4 C’s when putting together your donation reply device. Master copywriter and fundraising expert Alan Sharpe explains why in this guest article below.

Donation Letter Reply Devices:
Four Ways to Make Your Fundraising Letter Reply Coupons More Effective

Successful direct mail donation letters contain three things: a compelling case for support, a request for funds (the “ask”), and a response device. The case is the Incentive. The ask is the Imperative. And the response device is the Instrument.

The most popular reply device is the reply coupon, that slip of paper the size of a dollar bill that’s found in most direct mail fundraising packages. But today it could also be a landing page on a website. To make sure your mailing generates the kind of response you want-and the number of donations you want-you must have a reply device that is clear, complete, compelling and convenient.


  • Stands out in the package and is easy to find
  • Gives explicit instructions on what the reader must do to make a donation
  • Has sufficient space for handwriting
  • Keeps decisions to a minimum (the fewer checkboxes the better)


  • Features an ask ladder, such as $50 $75 $100 Other $___________
  • Offers the two most popular payment methods, cheque and credit card
  • Includes the complete address and phone number of your organization
  • Contains an unobtrusive key code so that you can track response
  • Tells the donor what to do with the reply device (eg. “Return this completed reply device with your donation in the enclosed postage-paid envelope”)


  • Repeats the case for support and the ask in summary form, usually a sentence
  • Where possible, shows what the donor’s gift “buys” (eg. $50 Feeds a family for a week $75 Gives a family a goat $100 Provides enough seed to feed 12 families)
  • Includes other incentives to donating, such as a free premium or membership benefits


  • Features the donor’s name and address pre-printed on the form
  • Has check-off boxes wherever possible
  • Is postage-paid or features a toll-free number
  • Comes with a postage-paid business reply envelope

Learn more…Read “How to Write Effective Direct Mail Fundraising Reply Devices,” available at the website below.

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. As the Director of Direct Development with The Gideons International In Canada, Alan manages their direct mail, major gifts and planned giving programs. Sign up for “Alan Sharpe’s Fundraising Pointers,” Alan’s free, weekly, email newsletter, at

More Donation Letter Tips

Fundraising Letter Reply – Fundraising letter reply devices – also known as reply coupons, donation coupons, reply slips, response forms and gift forms – are the instruments that conclude your request for funds. If your reply device doesn’t work, your appeal letter doesn’t work–and you don’t get the gift.

Eight Donation Letter Tips – The art of writing effective fundraising donation letters can be learned. I learned it and so can you. Here are eight tips for writing your own donation appeal letter.

Fundraising Letters That Work – To write fundraising letters that work, the writer needs to tell a story that connects with the target audience. The best way to do that is by telling the story in the first-person, so that prospective donors can experience the need that your non-profit addresses with its support and services.

Better Fundraising Letters Tell Stories – The best fundraising letters tell stories that pull the reader in and describe how lives have been changed for the better. Storytelling will help you raise more funds, but there is a format you should follow. Your donation letter should describe what someone’s life was like before something bad happened to them, what their life became before help arrived, and then what things are like for them now that help has arrived.