No Test? No Biggie!

Here at Impact we have worked (and even volunteered!) for a number of smaller nonprofits, with smaller mail quantities. Testing at a small organization can be difficult because tiny sample sizes just won’t yield statistically valid numbers. Testing can also seem too risky when you consider the potential for lost revenue. So, we were eager to hear from experts Tiffany Neill and Tom Gaffny at a recent DMAW Breakfast seminar about some sneaky shortcuts that any nonprofit (of any size!) can try.

Here are some useful tips we took away…

  • Use “Donor since…” in your package. If you’ve got a solid database, it should be simple to laser the year of the donor’s first gift somewhere in the package. Seeing that “Donor since 1999” on the reply form, for example, reminds them of the long history they share with your organization. It’s easy and it makes the donor feel more connected to your organization. So why not do it?
  • Color almost never makes a difference. Don’t waste time testing 19 different colored fonts or envelopes. Save time and money, keep it simple!
  • Make it mysterious. Sometimes, a blank envelope with no teaser or other information on the outside is the best way to go. It’s a play on our natural human instinct of curiosity. We know that when we grab our mail, and see an envelope with no indication of what it is, we open it. It could be an important bill! It could be a check for a million dollars! It could be (gasp!) a handwritten letter from an actual friend! In this case, curiosity didn’t kill the cat, but rather saved your budget quota. Remember, no teaser is always better than a mediocre teaser.
  • Stamp those RAEs. If you have the funds, stick a stamp (or two, or three) on your reply envelope. As Tom points out, it’s the one thing that we do FOR our donors. We send them countless letters and all we do is ask, ask, ask. Ask them to open it, to read it, to give us money. Giving the donor free postage is the one thing we give to them in return. And it always boosts response rate.
  • Finally, say thank you, early and often! We all know that cultivation is important. People love getting thank you calls, thank you cards, even thank you emails. If you have the time and resources to make these thank yous happen, you’ve got nothing to lose. Again, it is something small we can do to show the donor we care about them. After all, they show us they care about us.

In the end, the biggest take-away you should keep in mind, and never test-out of, is the question: Will this benefit the donor? If your answer isn’t “yes,” don’t test it or do it!

What tests have worked for you? What tips and tricks would YOU share with a smaller nonprofit without the sample size or resources to do their own tests?

– Posted by Amanda Marcucci & Julie Price

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