10-Point Checklist to Improve Response Rates

With fall and year-end campaigns being planned, NOW is the time to think about how to boost the response rates for your direct response campaigns.

Fundraising can be a bit like baking—with lots of different ingredients combining for a winning result. So just like in the kitchen, check your copy against this list to make sure you haven’t missed any key ingredients.

When drafting or reviewing a draft of your copy, ask yourself the following 10 questions. If the answer is no, go back to the copy and revise until you can answer yes on as many as possible.

  1. Did you ask for the gift at least three times? Is your first ask on page 1 of your direct mail letter and in the first three paragraphs of your email?
  2. Have you articulated a compelling offer?
  3. Did you tell me why more money is needed and outline the consequences of inaction?
  4. Have you considered a matching gift? “Your gift will be doubled.”  Or a challenge goal? “If 100 people donate, we will get a $5,000 gift.”
  5. Does your request sound urgent? Have you explained why it’s needed NOW?
  6. Have you personalized your letter or email with the donor’s name and other donor data?
  7. Have you included an involvement device for the donor to return with their gift, such as a petition, survey or note?
  8. Have you pre-tested your subject line to maximize success in email? Or tested teaser options (including no teaser) for your outer envelope in the mail?
  9. Are all your paragraphs shorter than four lines on the page?
  10. Did you use “You” in your copy? (Bonus points if it’s in your first line.)
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