When Times Are Tough, Tell It Like It Is

Sometimes, it pays to be transparent with your donors.

The American Psychological Association Practice Organization, an Impact client, has had fewer members in the past years, creating a smaller landscape for fundraising. We helped them craft an appeal letter that did not mask the challenges and stressed that donor support was more important than ever. The appeal generated more revenue than the prior year, despite mailing to 35% fewer households.

Why was this so effective?

  • Transparency works. The donor felt like they were privy to inside information. The letter did not gloss over the rough circumstances or pretend things were just fine. By being transparent, the Executive Director showed that she trusts the reader with this sensitive information – and they appreciated it.
  • It’s a problem the donor can help fix. There’s nothing abstract about a financial crunch. And you can see your help in action very quickly. Of course, this isn’t the kind of message you want to use too often or your members will worry about your solvency. But when you face a real situation, it’s one of the best cases for giving you can make.
  • You want urgency? You’ve got it. With fewer members and fewer dues, the organization would need to cut back on the important work it does for psychologists. It’s not much of a leap for their existing members to see how this could affect them, if they didn’t step in to help. 

All in all, the appeal raised nearly 15% more than the prior year. What’s more, the individual response rate soared to 26% — meaning that more than a quarter of the names on their file made a gift to this appeal.

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