Every once in a while, I just can’t take it anymore. So you’ve been warned: rant ahead.
The carrier envelope
It came in a larger than usual 9 x 6 envelope. So far, so good.
Then things went right off the rails.
“Important Reminder!” the envelope screamed. (Important to whom?)
“Name R. Name” (Why do people think using your whole, formal name feels at all personal?)
“We need your help to reach our 2016 Annual Appeal goal!” (Well, that’s inspiring. Yeah, not at all. It also makes the work – and achievements – all theirs. You, the donor, can just contribute money.)
Inside the envelope
Address stickers. (Of course.)
- A cheap “Certificate of Appreciation“. (If you’re going to do this, spend a few bucks to make it feel real.)
- A slip of paper with some generic health warning information. (I see what you did there: you just shifted some fundraising expense to programming.)
- And a response form, with a very short little letter at the bottom.
The letter is “personalized” inside – with the same, first name-middle name-last name.
It has 5 short paragraphs about why the organization is important. What their goals are. And statistics.
The message ends like this:
So, please, support our 2016 Annual Appeal with a donation today in any amount you can afford.
Oh yeah, then:
And let’s save lives!
The back of the response form/letter is more basic health advice.
Where’s the emotion?
This whole package is amazingly short of emotion.
Sure, there are lots of techniques at play here.
- There is some personalization. But it’s so poorly done they might as well not have bothered.
- The labels are offered as a “gift”. That’s meant to trigger reciprocity.
- The appeal is named for my town. Social proof trying to work.
- The envelope’s “Do Not Bend” instruction and “2 Free Gifts for you inside!” make it seem there’s something valuable inside. That helps with the envelope’s job – getting opened.
Oh, and the response form has a tear-off coupon, so you can fill out and keep your own receipt. I’m just guessing, but it doesn’t seem like a thank you letter is planned.
It all feels transactional.
Trees died for this?
I see mailings like this every day in my mailbox.
And I wonder: what if instead of mass-produced “certificates”, education and mailing labels, they spent a more time and energy writing a real appeal?
What if they had addressed a person? (Ms. Cahalane, or Mary)
What if they had told a story of someone who was desperately waiting for research to would save her life?
Or someone who had been saved, thanks to people like me who had given? And that the need was still urgent?
What if this had felt real?
What if they’d taken their appeal as seriously as their mission?
Everything about this package feels like it’s an after-thought. “Yeah, just roll that one out again. Let’s see what we get.”
It’s generic. I’ve intentionally kept the organization’s name out of this. But the truth is, the same package could easily be used for many organizations.
And the lack of emotion or connection to a prospective donor makes me wonder what the goals is. And what the follow-up might be.
Who responds to this? And if someone does, do they feel any particular connection to the organization – or were they just caught at the right moment?
The missed opportunities make me sad.