Friday, August 27, 2010

PURL's of wisdom

One of the more counter intuitive things in direct response fundraising is limiting response to just one vehicle.

In other words asking donors to respond through the mail, and the mail only.

Surely giving more options (web, phone) can only increase response/income?

Not necessarily. The reason/s?

- DM donors are DM donors. They're habitual. They love responding through the mail.

- It's easy. There are no distractions (especially if you laser all of their details on the response form and include a postage paid reply envelope).

- There can be a disconnect between the response form/appeal and the person on the end of the call or the landing page on your website.

In other words, you ask for $100 in the letter, all the way through. Then you send me to your 1800 number. The rep on the phone tells me I can "give whatever I feel comfortable with". Huh? But you asked for me $100 in the letter?

Similarly you bounce through to our donation page. The default ask is $40. Huh? But you asked me for $100 in the letter?

See what's happening here.

Now let me say that we have seen instances of more channels open = more income. But it isn't a given. You need to test it on your file. Let the donors do the talking.

The goalposts have shifted recently however. With the advent over the last few years of PURL's: personalized URL's.

Put simply, that means you can send people/donors through to a page where their details are dropped into their own personal page. That $100 ask is still $100, not $40 or "whatever you feel comfortable with".

We're about to do some more testing around pushing people online versus keeping it focused through the mail. But the difference being we're using PURL's in the online group to see whether this increases the chance someone will respond (by pre populating their details) and ensuring we generate the same level of gift we would through the mail (by including the same ask level).

Technology can make our lives easier. And hopefully our fundraising more effective. Who would have thought.



Jacob said...

I'd be interested to hear your results. We've tested pURLs and they have done well.

But nonprofits have been more turned off by donor fallout about privacy.

Telling a donor there is no more information online than what someone could get by looking at their mail doesn't help.

Jonathon Grapsas said...

Hi Jacob

Great feedback, thanks.

I've certainly seem some examples (in the US) where this has been problematic, fear of privacy and info shared.

I do believe this goes a step further than simply managing expectations as you send people online...

In other words, it has to be a situation where this is agenuine level of trust from supporters. Org's that constanhtly deliver, feebback and assure people why they continue to support.

When trust is gained I think the equation is somewhat different.

Anyway thanks for reading and for the comment, I'll be sure to post updates on our testing.


David Hazeltine said...

Weve combated the priovacyt issue by using a landing page for the donors/members, where they must enter their ID# to proceed to the form page.

Also, use "Questions about your donations or membership? Click here (which opens a relative page on your site - via new window or pop-up window).

And, the gift asks.matrices should ALWAYS reflect that of the individual's letter/reply device.

Jonathon Grapsas said...

Great stuff David, very useful.

Appreciate the insights.

Ted Grigg said...

As you put so well Jonathon, multi-channel marketing must coordinate and reflect the donor's past behavior/present ask.

That's why the key to all of this was revealed years ago prior to the rise of the online medium. That key is database marketing.

No enterprise can build relationships with thousands of donors and other stakeholders without instant access to a relational database.

The telemarketer on the phone, customer service and all of the organization's managers who interrelate with donors need access to relevant data.

I have found that privacy issues create a defensive rather than a proactive culture. The enterprise must not use this barrier as an excuse, but rather an opportunity to fulfill its mission.

Jonathon Grapsas said...

Well said Ted. Here, here.

Jonathon Grapsas said...

Well said Ted. Here, here.