12 Ways to Annoy Donors and Prospects (Part 11)

By Wayne Gurley
President & Creative Director

11: Leaving your location, address, phone number and email address off your website’s home page.

I can’t tell you how many nonprofit websites I’ve visited that don’t have the organization’s location, address, phone number and email address on the home page.

In many cases, the web designers make you work very hard to find it.  Sometimes you can’t even tell what state the organization is in.

Many organizations make it difficult to find their foundation’s “give now” pages, along with names, phone numbers and email addresses of the people who are responsible for fundraising.

These development personnel seem to be hiding from their donors. They don’t want to be found or contacted. I realize they may be hiding from spammers, but they’re also hiding from their donors, which isn’t a good thing.

What if someone wants to make a big gift to your organization and wants to talk about it,, but cant’ find the right person to call or email? They might just give up and give that money to another organization.

Don’t hide from your donors.  Make it easy for them to find and contact you.

Copyright 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc.

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12 Ways to Annoy Donors and Prospects (Part 10)

By Wayne Gurley
President & Creative Director

10:  Leaving your return address, web address and phone number off your reply slip.

(Sarcasm alert:) Believe it or not, some people don’t hang on to the deathless prose in your letter, or the carefully designed outside envelope with photo, graphic and teaser copy.

They often throw these pieces away after they’ve seen them, and only retain the reply slip.

Sometimes they toss the reply envelope or BRE, too. So if you don’t include your organization’s physical address on the reply slip, how will they know how to send it back to you?

If you don’t include your phone number or web address, how can they call or visit your site to get your physical address or instead make an online gift?

What if they have a question about your organization and there’s no way to contact you?

Make sure your pertinent information is on every piece in your direct mail package.  Every piece.

Copyright 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc.

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12 Ways to Annoy Donors and Prospects (Part 9)

By Wayne Gurley
President & Creative Director

9. Acknowledging a donor’s gift inappropriately or not soon enough.

Be sure and acknowledge or thank a donor for his or her gift within 24 – 48 hours of its receipt.

If the gift is small (under $10), a receipt is perfectly acceptable. Anything above $10 or $15 should probably be acknowledged by a letter.

Bigger gifts, generally starting at $100+, should get a letter and/or a phone call from someone at the organization.

Copyright 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc.


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12 Ways to Annoy Donors and Prospects (Part 8)

By Wayne Gurley
President & Creative Director

8. Using a pre-printed indicia on your outside envelope instead of a live stamp or meter imprint.

This is a close cousin to the previous post (#7). A pre-printed indicia tells the recipient “this letter isn’t very important, or we would have spent a little more money on a live stamp to send it to you.”

Aways use a non-profit live stamp if you can. If not, then use a really good-looking meter imprint which is almost indistinguishable from a first class meter imprint. The stamp will probably work better, though.

Copyright 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc.

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12 Ways to Annoy Donors and Prospects (Part 7)

By Wayne Gurley
President & Creative Director

7. Using a mailing label on your outside envelope instead of personalizing it.

Nothing screams “junk mail” quite as loudly as a mailing label on a fund-raising letter.

If you can’t afford quality personalization on a closed face carrier, then use a window envelope.

Copyright 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc.

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12 Ways to Annoy Donors and Prospects (Part 6)

By Wayne Gurley
President & Creative Director

6. Using “Dear Friend” in a personalized letter instead of “Dear [First Name.]”

If you can’t determine an accurate salutation in a personalized letter (such as Mr., Ms., Mrs. or Miss), then just use Dear “First Name” instead of “Dear Friend.”

Some organizations don’t like this because it seems they’re being too familiar with their readers and wouldn’t call them by their first name unless they really knew them personally.

But to me, “Dear Friend” is highly impersonal. I almost never use it unless I’m not using personalization at all. In my view, accuracy is more important than being overly familiar or too personal.

Using “Dear [First Name]” is the most accurate way of personalizing when you don’t have an accurate salutation. (And don’t use Mrs. or Miss unless you’re sure of a woman’s marital status. (Ms.is broadly acceptable for a woman whose marital status is unknown.)

Copyright 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc.

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12 Ways to Annoy Donors and Prospects (Part 5)

Wayne Gurley
President & Creative Director

5.  Creating a false impression on your outside envelope with the words “urgent,” “crucial,” or “emergency.”

There’s nothing worse than creating a sense of urgency when no such emergency exists.  If it’s really urgent, fine. But if not, when your reader finally learns the truth, they’ll be quite annoyed.

A number of years ago, a political organization decided to send out a fundraising letter via registered mail. This meant that if the donor was not home for delivery of the letter, a notice was left by the mail carrier asking the donor to come to the post office to pick up the letter.

Imagine how annoyed these people were when they found out they made a special trip to the post office just to pick up a fundraising appeal.

Copyright 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc.

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12 Ways to Annoy Donors and Prospects (Part 4)

By Wayne Gurley
President & Creative Director

4: Genderizing a name in a salutation.

Egregious isn’t too strong of a word to describe the use of a genderized name and address.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, to “genderize” a file is to make a determination that a particular “unisex” name is either male or female. For example, a gender program would decide that names like “Pat” and “Chris” are either male or female.

But how does it know for sure? It doesn’t. Just remember, if you use a genderized file, you have a 50% chance of being wrong with these names. (And with some people choosing their own gender nowadays, it gets even more complicated.)

Using “Dear Mr. Smith” for “Pat Smith” (a woman) and “Dear Ms. Jones” for “Chris Jones” (a man) is sure to irritate your reader.

A couple of real-life examples: My first name is “Jessie” (which is the female spelling for this name.) Over the years, I’ve gotten my share of offers directed to “Ms. Gurley.” I’ve also gotten quite a number of offers inviting me to purchase products like pantyhose from mailers who, from looking at my first name, assume I must be a female.

Another example: My mother-in-law (may she rest in peace) was named “Bernie.” She got her fair share of offers addressed to “Mr.” And when she was younger, she even got a military draft notice!

My advice is:  Don’t genderize. It’s too easy to get burned and annoy your donors and prospects.

(Copyright 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc.)

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12 Ways to Annoy Donors and Prospects (Part 3)

By Wayne Gurley
President & Creative Director

3.  Misspelling names.

The spelling of your donor or prospect’s name is VERY, VERY important.

Dale Carnegie once observed that “a person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound.” If this is true, then why do so many organizations fail in this area?

Direct mail research has shown that the name and address is one of THE VERY FIRST THINGS a person looks at when opening your letter.

If it is correct, it gives the reader confidence to continue reading.  If the address block is riddled with errors, then the reader may assume the organization is not up to the task of fulfilling its mission and, as such, is not worthy of a gift.

Copyright 2018 Allegiant Direct, Inc.


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12 Ways to Annoy Your Donors and Prospects (Part 2)

By Wayne Gurley
President & Creative Director

2.   Making it difficult for donors to respond to your appeals.

Your reply slip should be fully personalized with the donor’s name, address, city, state and zip code.

Preferably, you should have check boxes with gift amounts and fund designations so that with just a few swipes of a pen, a donor can indicate how much he or she wants to give and how it should be used.

Design your reply slip to ensure that the hardest thing your donor has to do is write a check or possibly go online to make a gift.

In most cases, you should use a business reply envelope so that your respondent doesn’t have to search for a stamp.  But don’t take this for granted.  In several tests we’ve done, the use of a “courtesy reply envelope” (i.e., one without pre-paid postage) has been shown to increase response. So test this for yourself – and probably more than once.

Copyright 2018 Allegiant Direct, Inc.


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