Not Just An Ask: A Survey
Controversial issues lie at the heart of many nonprofit causes. In faith-based and political fundraising topics, for example, issues like stem cell research and gun control can become part of an appeal. But even in animal rights organizations, cultural issues like animal research or wearing fur may come into the spotlight.
When donating to a cause involves an ethical position rather than a call to action like "fight cancer" or "support the arts," one way for mailers to present an argument to prospects about where to stand on an issue is through surveys. One of the most effective direct mail involvement devices, surveys raise complex psychological questions and feed prospects the information they need to decide to support a cause.
In a recent control mailing sent in October, TechnoServe used a questionnaire to drive awareness of its mission to promote economic solutions to poverty in developing countries. The mailing was a test package, first dropped in fall 2007 and sent twice more since. The package includes a four-page letter, reply form with a questionnaire and a BRE. Since its first drop, the package design has remained the same with updates to the letter content. It's currently mailing out against another letter package with a white outer envelope that focuses on the organization's annual fund (Archive Code #605-176796-0811B).
Riding on the Kraft outer, an address label with the TechnoServe logo asks, "Fleeting Relief or Economic Solutions?" The same outer copy is repeated on the reply form and questionnaire, where eight questions help prospects evaluate the worth of sending temporary aid through ordinary relief organizations or providing economic resources through initiatives like TechnoServe's.
These are not simple yes or no questions, but clever rhetorical devices written to spur thinking about the finer points of TechnoServe's point of view-that long-term economic solutions are more effective than fleeting donations. For example, one question asks whether economic growth in the developing world should come "from within, utilizing natural resources and talents to build sustainable businesses," or from wealthier nations who impose change from without. "[The questionnaire] is generated from just getting people to think about development, as opposed to relief and the differences between the two. The whole point was really to emphasize the long-term impact of our development work," says Darlene Brown, director of donor relations for the Norwalk, Conn. and Washington, D.C.-based organization.