Give your donors what they need – where they need it

Do your donors (or potential donors) have the information they need so they can move to the next step of the donation process? A recent exchange with a colleague made me want to revisit this concept.

I invited our Creative Director to submit some recent brilliance to a competition hosted by the Integrated Marketing Advisory Board on whose board I sit. My email to her was as follows:

Subject: Free Industry awards competition, and I’m on the board

I’d be pleased if we can submit some recent award nominations into the IMAB competition. Deadline is Feb 7. [I included a link to the submissions page.]


She wrote back and said, “I don’t see anything about entry costs.”

Now mind you, this Creative Director is (a) brilliant and (b) writes and edits email copy for a living! But she missed the word “free” in my email subject line. “Free” was not mentioned in either my email copy or, embarrassingly, on the entry page (we’ve since fixed it).

The moral? Using “Free” in the subject line may have helped her decide to open the email, but it needed to be mentioned again within the email body, and/or on the landing page, to convince her that entering this competition wouldn’t bust her budget.

A long time ago, another brilliant copywriter explained to me that each piece of a direct mail package had to stand on its own. The letter and reply device, and all other inserts, had to have the organization’s name and address visible, in case they became separated from the reply envelope. This kind of redundancy is low-cost and increases response incrementally.

Ditto for an online encounter. Tease them in the subject line to get them to open it, but don’t expect them to read the subject line once they get inside the email. The email body should incite them to click the link, whereupon they will forget what was in the email. Give them all the information they need on the page where they are now.

Right now the biggest online fundraising gap is between the top of your donation page and the bottom. That is, 20% or so of people who click to the page finish it. Why do 80% bail out? Maybe you’re giving them too many options elsewhere, or too little information (or emotional reinforcement) on the page itself.

Would you like me to look at your online donation process? Contact me for an audit.


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