Tuesday, March 2, 2010

STOP including a bequest tick box on your appeal response forms

Please stop doing this. Now, right now.

It suppresses response to your appeal, as well as suppressing average gift. And I have data to prove it.

Why? Because it is a distraction.

But you're missing the opportunity to talk about bequests, right?

Yes and no. Yes in one sense you are, but refer my previous point about suppressing appeal performance. And the key thing is there are other much more effective ways to talk to people about bequests. I've blogged lots about this, most recently here.

Anyway back to the data. We tested this for a client last year. One group included a tick box about receiving information on bequests. The other group did not.

The response in the group without the tick box had a response rate 1% higher than the group with the tick box, and an average gift almost $2.50 higher.

Both of these differences were statistically significant, thus proving the inclusion of this request suppresses the overall return of that appeal.

It comes down to telling donors the single most important thing you want to tell them right now. Don't confuse the message, keep it simple.

Use other opportunities (separate bequest communications, surveys etc) to talk about bequests. It really is the most effective way to grow your bequest program.


PS - For those interested in what the 'ultimate bequest program' looks like, check out a presentation I delivered a little while back on this.


Anonymous said...

This is absolutely right - it confuses, and its good to see such clear evidence. Its worth saying that on the other side to promote bequests is a drip drip approach, normalising them as another way to give and making them feel part of the total offer. Best done through stories and subtle prompts and direct requests. We now dont seek direct pledges - we only seek to stimulate conversations - the outcome may be a pledge but we dont seek it and make this a virtue in the offer - in turn we get more people telling us anyway!! Getting the right approach is critical through the right words as well http://bit.ly/cpjXv6

Jonathon Grapsas said...

Hi Stephen

Thanks for your comments, much appreciated.

Agree re the drip, drip approach. And I think that talking to people about bequests can take shape in many, varied ways.

In relation to the direct requests we've found a different approach works than your experience, but I guess that’s why testing is so great!

We use supporter surveys to uncover confirmed bequestors and prospects for follow up. Of course the success of these approaches is dictated by the level of bequest noise/marketing that’s happened historically.

And the survey is just one prospect source amongst a number of other initiatives - bequest mailings, other 'warm' approaches, cold bequest pushes etc.

I just added a presentation to this post which shows in a little more detail what we're seeing work.

Thanks again for your note.


Jonathon Grapsas said...

Oh and the survey is a supporter one - lots of questions about motivations, what donors are interested in. As opposed to a specific bequest survey, which it is not.

Ive bloggeed a few times about the power of surveys here if you're interested.

Thanks for sparking this conversation.. :)


Phyllis Freedman said...

I couldn't agree with you more because I have seen similiar results. In addition, a checkbox in direct mail lacks appropriate targeting for the message. While we do want to get bequest messaging to the widest possible audience, we want that audience to be within our target demographic (loyalty, age, etc.) Direct mail by its very nature is mass marketing. For gift planning, the audience should be more targeted. Otherwise, you'll spend alot of human and financial capital responding to prospects that are not qualified.



Jonathon Grapsas said...

Hi Phyllis

Thanks for the note. Glad your testing aligns with ours. :)

And your point is spot on, in that the 'tick box' is not the right way to convey a legacy/bequest message. All it does is distracts from and dilutes the message at hand, in this case an ask for say a onetime cash gift.

And yep agree re the nature of planned giving communications. There's lots of stuff on this in the presentation I posted.

Thanks again for your comments and thoughts.


Chris said...

Hey Jonathon,

Is the decrease in response rate be linked with the placement of the tick box (ie: before or after payment details)

Have you seen other tick boxes also decrease response (electronic communications opt ins, data sharing opt outs etc)?

And is the same true for cold and warm communications?

Jonathon Grapsas said...

Hi Chris

Thanks, good questions.

No I don't believe it's linked with the placement of the tick box (this wasnt what we were testing here) - more so the distracting nature of having a secondary (peripheral) ask on here.

The same goes for other tick boxes (cold and warm) for the same reasons listed above and in the original post. Tell people one thing really, really well. The single most important thing you want to tell them, right now. And strip everything else out. that's what gets best results.

Thanks again for visiting and for your comments.