The mighty response form!

20th February 2017

Recently I conducted a couple of focus groups with long-term supporters of Christian charities  (people who supported 10 or more charities annually for 5 years or more) asking them to share with me how they engaged with a fundraising appeal package that came through their letterbox.

Here is one of the most interesting insights from the conversations: most of the people in both groups said that the thing they examined first was not the letter but the response form.

Yes, you heard it right – the response form! They said that they would look first at the header of the response form to find out what the gift was for. Then, they would check whether – the suggested amounts were reasonable – in their opinion.

In those 10 – 15 seconds that it took them to read the form headline and the gift amounts they  would make a snap decision whether to send a gift or not! And, after they had decided that they would give they would read the letter, well maybe just some of the letter, if they found it interesting.

As one one them put it: ‘Sometimes after I have read the letter I decide to send a larger gift than my initial thinking and I like to put the cheque in the post straightaway.’

All the 16 donors I spoke to said that the longer they kept a letter the less likely they were to send a gift and that they found the brochures and cards included in fundraising packages annoying, and saw them as a ‘waste of money.’

So, if the response form is what matters to donors what can your charity do to make the response devices  clear, compelling, simple and inspiring?