Gratitude Generates Giving for the Franciscan Friars
Good manners dictate a prompt thank-you note whenever a gift is received. That practice serves well when conducting direct mail campaigns as well. It's a technique that has worked for Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, Graymoor (FFAG), particularly when combined with well-targeted campaigns aimed at the organization's most loyal donors.
The process begins when the nonprofit segments its file to determine its most dedicated supporters, those who have given two or more gifts annually for the past five years or longer. These folks receive a control mailing that includes FFAG's "Graymoor Today" newsletter, a gift reply form, and an insert with information on how to create a will and include the organization in their estate planning (Archive code #609-700798-0504C). When this mailing generates a donation from a recipient, it is followed within two to three days by a thank-you mailing expressing FFAG's gratitude (Archive code #609-700798-0504B). The current thank-you mailing is a test effort which includes a Perpetual Mass Enrollment booklet, a 4" x 6" booklet which the recipient/benefactor can use to request that FFAG prays on behalf of someone he knows who is in distress or is deceased. This mailing also includes a reply slip with a recommended donation amount based on the donor's previous gift. This offers recipients the opportunity to donate once again soon after their last gift. Andy Rivers, executive director of development for the FFAG, says that although this is only a suggested donation, "99 percent of the time" recipients give again. He adds, "It makes a big difference I think, the faster you can get that thank-you into the donor's hands." In fact, FFAG now processes mailings in-house in order to be able to send out thank-you mailings as quickly as possible.
Both the control mailing and the test mailing were instituted toward the end of 2004. Previously, the newsletter and will insert were sent separately. Integrating the two elements into the current control has saved money and boosted response, attests Rivers. "That's the way we do all our planned-giving mailings," he says. "We've found we can hit the largest universe and we can also save a lot of money, since we're not doing a separate mailing." The control has worked well for FFAG. Rivers notes, "We're looking at about a 4 percent response with a lot of inquiries for additional information and personal visits."
The thank-you letter with Perpetual Mass Enrollment booklet currently is being tested with FFAG's most loyal donors. "When we put a new product out, we identify a test quantity that we want to send to those people to get their response to it," explains Rivers. "We're testing to see what the response will be, if we get a second gift based on the [booklet] and the thank-you, as well." So far, the results have been promising, according to Rivers. In fact, providing donors with the chance to give again within a short period of time has lifted response. The thank-you letter with booklet has enjoyed a 7.5 percent response, says the executive director.
Come this fall, FFAG will be testing the inclusion of a healing card in its thank-you package.