Have you ever had that one appeal or campaign that you just knew was going to be really successful? You were so excited about it, and you thought donors would really respond to it.
Then after it’s mailed out. . . crickets.
It raises some money, but not what you expected.
So what happened? What went wrong?
It can be hard to know for sure, but there are a few things you should look at when trying to figure out why an appeal didn’t perform as well as expected.
First, look at the offer. Was the offer clear and concise, or was it hard to understand? Were you asking the donor to do too many things? Sometimes it’s very clear to you, as an insider to the organization, but to the donor who’s on the outside, it might not be as clear.
For example, say you’re a nonprofit organization helping kangaroos.
In Appeal A, you ask the donor to send $15 to provide a day’s worth of food to one kangaroo. In Appeal B, you ask them to send $15 for a day of food, OR $20 for a day of enrichment tools, OR $5 for special kangaroo treats, AND you also ask them to sign a card to send to a friend so they can also help, AND also ask them to go the website so they can sign up for emails.
Appeal A will most likely perform better because the ask is clear and only one thing. Appeal B has too many different asks and can be overwhelming to the donor.
Next, look at the scaffolding. If you’ve read Steve’s book, Donoricity, you know how important all four elements are to creating a strong appeal. Go back and look to see if you had all four of those elements in your appeal. It’s possible that the problem or solution wasn’t as clear as you thought it was. Or maybe you missed consequence completely.
It’s common for different appeals to have varying amounts of each scaffolding. One piece may be heavy consequence, or another may be heavy solution. But they should all have at least a bit of each element of the scaffolding.
Last, was the appeal about the donor or you?
A low response rate can be because it wasn’t designed for response. It can be easy to fall into the trap of being organization-focused instead of donor-focused. But taking the time to make sure your copy focuses on the donor works best. Every time.
Here are two examples of an ask, which one do you think would do better?
- Give $15 to help Kangaroo Sanctuary provide care to hurting kangaroos. Without the Kangaroo Sanctuary, the kangaroos would be malnourished and left to try to survive on their own.
- Your gift of $15 will provide food and shelter to kangaroos who have nowhere else to go. Without partners like you, they would be malnourished and left to try to survive on their own.
See? Minor adjustments, big change in focus.
Of course, this is just a start in looking at why an appeal didn’t perform as well as expected. If you have any questions or would like Oneicity to help troubleshoot with you, just email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org