Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas appeal tips and snow capped houses

I wanted to blog my top tips for your Christmas appeal. And I'm going to below - but I have to say that it has just dawned on me that Christmas this year will be a little different from what I am used to.

You see, for me, Christmas is about endless barbeques, 35 degree (celsius that is) days and cricket in the backyard. For those unsure about the heritage of cricket, think baseball with a different shaped bat, a 'pitch' rather than a diamond and players on considerably lower wages!

Anyway I disgress. I'm sitting on a train to Ottawa and whilst I planned to spend most of the journey working - I have to admit I keep getting distracted by coverings of snow on the fields and houses that we pass. To most on the train it means nothing, but to me it's slightly intriguing.

Enough of my Christmas experiences - if you are just putting the final touches to your Christmas appeal, or equivalent - some useful tips for increasing the chances of it 'rocking'. Some of these may come a little late but useful for future appeals nonetheless...

1. Send (test) a pre cursor to donors to let them know about your upcoming Christmas appeal

Tell them what you are going to tell them. Tell them. And then tell them what you told them.

A great piece of advice I was once given during a training course. Think about how you could apply that to your program. A week or so before your Christmas appeal, tell your donors about the appeal they are about to receive.

This can be done by email, a postcard or even a phone call. But test this to see whether it has a positive impact on your overall campaign.

Oh, and don’t forget to tell them what you want to tell them in the main appeal and then tell them what you told them if you do a reminder mailing.

2. Keep it clear and give donors a compelling reason to give

Not that you need the holiday season to remind you of this point, but keep you message clear and ensure you ask donors to do one thing only.

Conflicting messages suppress response to any campaign.

3. Make it hard for donors to stop reading your appeal

I once read some great copy feedback from Ken Burnett which pointed out that what you want to do is get the reader mentally nodding in agreement as they read the letter. We might think we have developed brilliant and compelling copy but is it going to keep the donors attention for two, three or four pages?

Make it hard for them to put it down. Not by focusing on Christmas, but by establishing a need and helping the donor help you find a solution.

4. Donor recognition – make it more prominent than ever

Thank, thank and thank again.

A simple mantra to live and breathe. But go a step further. Recognize the donor’s type of support (monthly donor, confirmed bequestor etc) and refer to past support at this time of year.

Make sure it is apparent that you know who your donors are and how they have supported you in the past. Everyone likes to know they are remembered and valued.

5. Christmas ends in January

The perfect donor communications cycle asks people to support, thanks them for their generosity and cares for them along the way.

This last ingredient is often forgotten or not done well. Your Christmas appeal doesn’t end in December, it ends when you tell your donors (including those that didn’t donate at Christmas) where their money has gone and the impact it will have, or has had, on your beneficiaries.

Hope that helps. Keep me posted on the success of your next mailing!



Kimberley MacKenzie said...

Thanks Jonathon for the reminder that I need to plan on getting something out in January! Our mailing seems to be going well with thousands of $ in this week. YEAH!

It is easy to forget that you are used to HOT Christmas's. You and Tasha should come up to ski country over the holidays! Do you ski?

Jonathon Grapsas said...

Thats great news about your appeal - well done!

I ski, but fairly badly. Tash hasnt tried yet but is up for it. We think we might give it a go over the NY!

Kimberley MacKenzie said...

Well Lets see what happens when I actual do what Pareto would recommend.

Come up here for half a day to get your ski legs before NY. Its a very easy hill. Then we will feed you. Should probably take this offline now or the entire world will be here!....K