You ask, Kim answers! Welcome to the “Dear Kim” blog, where our fundraising experts give all their inside tips, tricks and handy dandy advice in response to fundraising, peer to peer, events and crowdfunding questions submitted by YOU! In this latest post we had a few questions come in about ask letters. Read along to get all the juicy insights!
Want to submit your own fundraising question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org!
I’m currently drafting a support letter to send out to current and potential donors, but I feel it’s rather dull as it sits. What kind of content could I put in the letter to make it more fun that will really compel people to give?
Dear content hungry:
The first thing I wonder here is why the letter has to be “fun” to get donors to give? I would quibble and change the purpose to “compelling,” “relevant,” or “moving.” Even if your organization supports a mission that is fun (kids going to camp for example) you still want to make sure your fundraising letters are compelling.
A couple of best practices to get you started:
- Explain the need: Why do you need people to support you? Be specific here. What does giving their support accomplish? Is there something specific those donation dollars are going toward? Will the money directly impact the donor’s life? These are the things you want to mention!
- Share stories. It could be about a person, animal, or research project that needs support. Donors like to connect to people.
- Look back at your past fundraising letters and see which ones generated the highest response rates, and compare them to the ones that had the lowest response rates. What was different?
- If you send the letter digitally, include photos and/or links to videos (put the video on your donation form, but don’t redirect people to a separate page) to visually communicate your mission.
- Use industry examples: think of letters that you’ve received from other organizations that really moved you. What about those letters spoke to you? Think about *how* they asked for donations. Then apply those tactics to your own.
My nonprofit is working on our third ask letter since January, and it got me thinking, what is the appropriate number of asks in a year? Should we be doing more? Should we be scaling back? What kind of threshold do you recommend?
Dear Ask Away,
Oh boy! This is one of those “chicken and egg” questions the industry has been trying to answer for years and there is no “right” one. The way I would approach this is to go dig around in your data and answer several key questions:
- Is there a good reason we are sending these fundraising asks? Do they have a compelling offer that is different from the last one?
- How are we segmenting the asks? Are we sending them to the same group of people, or different groups of donors? If it’s the same group, have we segmented donors to see which are responsive or not? You also may want to try reactivating lapsed donors.
- Are we looking into advanced data that reveals historical times of the year donors give? For example, someone who always gives in December should maybe not be mailed three times between January and June. Also, are we looking at campaign-theme giving preferences?
Fundamentally, the frequency of how often you send an ask should be driven by results. So if adding in an additional ask drives NET positive revenue for your organization, then you should keep adding them until doing so no longer pays off. Make sure you are tracking ROI and Net ROI of these additional touches. Keep in mind that new donor acquisition mailings almost never break even, so those performing at the baseline loss, or the long term value metric, you can determine to be your acceptable cost per acquisition (CPA).