What’s in My Mailbox | What to Look for in a Donor-Friendly Reply Device

July 22, 2020

In Simple Development Systems, your guide to growing your fundraising, monthly giving plays a vital role. We recommend two to five dedicated monthly giving asks in the course of a year, using a mix of direct mail and email.

Now, in the midst of a pandemic and global uprisings, monthly giving is more important than ever before. It provides a reliable revenue stream that you can count on, and you need that.

So I was delighted to have two dedicated monthly giving appeals from two of my favorite organizations appear in my mailbox recently. Both of these appeals were well-written pieces. But then I came to the reply device…

What do you want your donor to do?

Well, in this particular case, you’re looking for your donor to make a recurring gift to your organization — either via the mail or online. But take a look at these two response devices and tell me which one…

  • is easy for the donor to understand and complete, featuring plenty of white space to write and oversized font for older eyes?
  • captures email addresses (something that you want to do at every opportunity)?
  • offers opportunities to connect?
  • offers an invitation to learn more about planned giving?

The first is from Ontario Nature, an organization we’ve featured in past Mailbox posts.

And the second? Well, this example is a typical example of the reply device I receive from most nonprofits who want to save money with a one-size-fits-all reply device. They’ve combined the reply device with the return envelope. The font is probably in point 8 font. It’s difficult to read and difficult to complete. Donors don’t know what “planned giving” is. They’re asked to be added to the enewsletter list, but there is no space for an email address. On the bright side, they do give directions for donating online.

The third example will give you an idea of the kind of language you can use to drive more donors to give online, particularly important now as return mail is seeing significant delays.

In your direct mail package, walk through every step of the process in your donor’s eyes and you can’t go wrong.


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