Pledge cards, donation forms and remit envelopes: Getting the most from your fundraising materials

True, these materials may be second only to “the ask,” but pledge cards, donation forms and remittance envelopes are key to your nonprofit’s success. Helping to secure donations, designating gifts and tracking the return-on-investment of any fundraising campaign, these materials should be used carefully and reviewed often.So how can your nonprofit ensure it is using these tools most effectively? We have a few tips for your consideration.

First things first: a reminder that donation forms should include contact and payment information, fund designation, as well as an opt-in to receive future communications via e-mail and direct mail.

In person:

  • The trend for many nonprofits in the past few years is to minimize printing costs and increase the ease of donation by combining the donation form with the remit envelope. Ordered in bulk, these remit envelopes are great for passing out at events and board meetings, as well as stitching into newsletters and brochures.
  • Consider combining your remit envelope or donation form with a gift to prompt onsite donations. For example, fill a small candy jar halfway with goodies and place a remit envelope inside or at special events, place remit envelopes with a chocolate coin and tie to an inflated balloon as table decorations that double as party favors.

In the mail:

  • Direct mail requests continue to be a successful fundraising tactic for many nonprofits. Instead of the same letter from campaign to campaign, mix things up a bit with your mail. Instead of letters, send small boxes that include fundraising materials and appeal letters and an incentive, like a rolled-up T-shirt or a ceramic mug.
  • Make it readable: Turn on Flesch-Kincaid. Studies show that even highly educated people read and recall more at about a 7th-grade reading level. The Flesch‑Kincaid Readability Test gives you that level automatically. To turn it on in Word, click the Microsoft Office Button, and then click Word Options. Click Proofing. Make sure Check grammar with spelling is selected. Under When correcting grammar in Word, select the Show readability statistics check box. Click OK. You’re done.

On the phone:

  • Use pledge cards when calling donors. As a conversation is started and the topic of a gift or pledge is made, callers can use the cards to track donations and fill out reminders to the donors all at once. Create cards that read something like “Dear _______, thank you for your pledge of $_______ I enjoyed speaking with you on the phone today. Please send a check for the amount to Nonprofit Org ABC, 123 Main Street.” After the call, callers simply send these cards out to encourage donors who have not forwarded their pledge to the campaign to do so.

Online:

  • Merely linking to a PDF of a donation form on your website simply won’t cut it these days. E-commerce solutions or site integration with donor software is a must for processing online gifts. These online forms should have all the same information as offline forms, but keep these insights, taken from DonorDigital’s usability research,  in mind for maximum effectiveness:
    •  Bigger donate buttons helped convert more donors
    • Vividly colored donation buttons had varying levels of impact on donation page conversion
    • Removing unnecessary fields from personal information forms significantly increased conversion
    • Polite header copy yielded better conversion than a more forceful call-to-action
  • When e-mailing requests or communicating with board members and other donors, don’t forget to link to your organization’s online giving page. It may sound like common sense, but studies show that a significant number of nonprofits forget to do this and instead, simply instruct people to visit the website. Remember, the easier you make it to give, the more likely you are to receive a gift.

As always, be sure to include codes or symbols of some sort—pre-printed or as low-tech as a highlighter mark or stamp—to track the gifts that come in. Not only will this help to determine which segments of your database are most receptive to requests, but which fundraising materials have the best response rate. Then, you’ll know just how effective these materials are in your fundraising arsenal!

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