8 reasons your direct mail appeal didn't work (Part 6)

By Wayne Gurley
President & Creative Director

6. You asked for an inappropriate amount of money.

If there is such a thing as a 100% “truism” in direct marketing, it’s this…

The more money you ask for, the lower your response will be. I’ve tested this many times, and it always ends up the same: If you ask for more than the prospect or donor thinks is appropriate, instead of sending something less than what you’ve asked, they simply do nothing.

(For another excellent take on this subject, read Jeff Brook’s blog by clicking here: Because we need it is not a fundraising strategy”.)

In many cases, a person will give you a gift that’s a lot smaller than what they’re capable of giving. They do this because they’re not that committed to your organization – at least not yet – and they want to see how they feel about you after making a gift. Or as Jeff suggests, your donors may not think you’ve given them enough of a reason to send a larger amount.

First time donors often use their first gift as an “audition.” They will send a smaller amount just to see how you’re going to treat them. If you pass this test, they may send you a second gift. But if you fail, you may lose them as a donor forever.

Thanking your donor via a letter and phone call (if at all possible) is an EXTREMELY important first step in the cultivation of a new donor. It’s also one of the best ways to avoid high attrition rates

© Copyright 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc.

Wayne GurleyComment
8 reasons your direct mail appeal didn't work (Part 5)

By Wayne Gurley

President & Creative Director

5. Your outside envelope left no mystery as to what was inside.

If your outside envelope “telegraphs” what’s inside your package, your donors and prospects may decide to trash it even before they open it.

That’s why it’s always best to leave a little mystery about what you’re sending.

Your logo without a picture or teaser on the front is probably the best way to craft an outside envelope. Why? Because if you put a lot of stuff on the envelope that leaves nothing to the imagination, then the decision as to whether or not to take a look inside can be made before it’s even opened.

If you know how to “tease” with copy and art, then by all means, proceed. But most people are woefully inadequate at this task. They usually say too much, and as a result, response can be negatively affected.

When they first see your package, you want them to think, “Hmmm…I wonder what this is about?” Your #1 objective is to get people to OPEN your envelope.

That’s half the battle of being successful with direct mail. If you can get a person to open it, then there’s a chance they’ll read your letter, understand your message AND send a gift. But that will never happen if they trash it first.

© Copyright 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc.

Wayne GurleyComment
8 reasons your direct mail appeal didn't work (Part 4)

By Wayne Gurley
President and Creative Director

4. Your graphics were very colorful, creative and vibrant, but they distracted your audience from making a gift.

Anything that distracts a donor or prospect from making a gift is to be avoided at all costs.

Pictures can be used successfully if used judiciously. But too many pictures, or too many things to look at can distract your donors and prospects from figuring out just what you want them to do – which is to send a gift.

People have a “timer” in their heads, and it’s set for just a few seconds. When they first see your package, they don’t even know how much time they have before it goes off. (It’s longer for some and shorter for others).

But when it does go off, that’s when your envelope and its contents go into the trash. If your readers can’t quickly and easily figure out what you want them to do – or if you make it too complicated for them to focus on your main objective – they won’t take the time to figure it out. They’ll just move on to the next thing on their mental “to do” list.

Do you really think your package is so important your donors will give it unlimited time? If so, think about what YOU might do under similar circumstances with lots of pieces of mail to go through and a timer in your head ticking down to zero.

© 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc.

Wayne GurleyComment
8 reasons your direct mail appeal didn't work (Part 3)

By Wayne Gurley

3. You wrote about something your audience cared about, but you wrote it in such a way that it bored them to tears.

Sure, you can have an exciting and motivating message.  But you can write it in such a way that makes your audience yawn and want to throw it in the trash can. For example…

  • You can include a lot of statistics, which are deadly in direct mail.

  • You can write using the institutional “we,” which comes across as cold and impersonal.

  • You can brag about what your organization does or has done, instead of bragging about what the donor has done to help you achieve your goals.

  • You can use big words, long sentences and long paragraphs.

  • You can write at a college reading level, instead of a 6th-grade reading level.

  • You can try to change the way your donors think, instead of meeting them where they already are.

© 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc. All rights reserved.


Wayne GurleyComment
8 reasons your direct mail appeal didn’t work (Part 2)

By Wayne Gurley

2. You wrote about something your audience didn’t care about.

Many times an organization will pick a copy theme THEY think is important for their organization to talk about. However, it may not be something their donors care much about.

To be successful, direct mail appeals must be “donor-centric.” The copy theme needs to be something that will resonate with donors and motivate them to give.

Remember: It’s all about the donor and what THEY can do to change lives and help you achieve your mission, not about your organization or what you might think is important.

Copyright 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc.

Wayne GurleyComment
8 reasons your direct mail appeal didn’t work (Part 1)

By Wayne Gurley

1.  You mailed to the wrong audience.

Your mailing list is the single most important element for success in any direct mail appeal. A letter that might have worked gangbusters for some other organization may fail miserably for yours.

At the risk of sounding obvious, your active donors are your best audience for a direct mail appeal. Next best is lapsed donors (those who haven’t given in at least a year).

Keep in mind that the further you get in time from a donor’s last gift, the worse your response will be. With most of our clients, we can’t go out much past five years from the date of a donor’s last gift.

Ideally, you’re going to want to acquire new donors while you’re going to the effort of preparing a direct mail appeal. So your prospects should be more than just “suspects.”

A good prospect list will include people who are the correct age for fundraising and have more than a casual relationship with your organization, or match closely with your existing donor base (as in the case of an affinity-oriented rented list).

Hopefully, they also will be philanthropically inclined and direct mail responsive, too.

Copyright 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc.

Wayne GurleyComment
12 Ways to Annoy Donors and Prospects (Part 12)

By Wayne Gurley
President & Creative Director

12. Asking for a gift that’s too high – or too low.

Asking for an inappropriately sized gift will result in only one thing – absolutely no response at all.

Ask for too much, and instead of giving you something less, your donor won’t give anything.

Ask for too little, and you may get a gift, but it may also result in “downgrading” a donor that might have given you more if you had asked appropriately in the first place.

Copyright 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc.

Wayne GurleyComment
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.

Wayne GurleyComment
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.

Wayne GurleyComment
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.


Wayne GurleyComment