Not Just An Ask: A Survey
The letter begins by directing the prospect's attention to the survey ("As I imagine you responding to the enclosed questionnaire"), and continues to explain TechnoServe's mission and results. For those prospects who skim or jump to the end, aggressive copy in the P.S. drives home the gist of the letter. "Most donors, if they read nothing else, they read the P.S., so it's extremely important," says Brown.
This mailing was sent to nearly 150,000 prospects, including TechnoServe's prime segment of older, well-educated individuals, residing in urban areas with close to a 50/50 gender divide. Previous tests to the ask string allowed Brown to increase the initial ask from $25 to $30. "We did a test starting with $30 and found that we did, indeed, get a higher average gift, so now we start them with $30," she says. To weather the economic downturn, Brown says that TechnoServe has scaled back on its prospect mailings this year but not on its renewals. The organization also has invested in a profile of its database to improve some of its list selects for next year.
For now, the future of this mailing is uncertain as current results pour in and TechnoServe sets its mailing schedule for next year. Brown speculates that there will be updates to the letter content and perhaps a tweak to the outer envelope, but says she'll have to analyze this year's results first before planning the next drop. "We really need to see the end results since we've only mailed this package a few times," she cautions.
Currently the questionnaire is used purely to generate response, and as some prospects check off and even write in responses, Brown says that she could see it evolving into a more scientific study. The questionnaire will remain a staple of this control package, as the organization gathers the results of its most recent drop to confirm the questionnaire's apparent success. "The package last year did well compared to others and is generating a strong average gift," Brown says.