Published on June 19, 2019 by

When your fundraising personalisation fails

 

It came in a cute, non-DLX envelope. Greeting card sized.

It was printed on smaller than A4, stationery-sized paper.

It started with a lovely thank you.

Then it was RUINED by personalisation gone wrong. This sentence:

Will you give a gift to the Where Most Needed Fund to help meet these needs?

I couldn’t help laughing. Now there may well be some charities with an official “Where Most Needed Fund”. But I’m guessing that this non-profit tried to personalise this sweet, little letter by incorporating the name of the last project, item or appeal to which the donor gave.

And it would have worked wonderfully if the donor had previously donated to anything specific. Then it would have rendered as:

Will you give a gift to the Build the Futures Fund to help meet these needs?

Will you give a gift to the Hunger Crisis Appeal to help meet these needs?

 Will you give a gift to provide clean water to help meet these needs?

But “Where Most Needed” is used in many charity ask strings for the donor who doesn’t designate where they want their gift to go. It’s possible that most donors don’t know this and will just think it’s a rather awkward way of asking for funds.

However, I’m guessing all the fundraisers reading this know about that bucket called “Where Most Needed”. In fact, a high proportion of donors select this option. So that means probably a high percentage of the donors mailed this letter received an ask to donate to this “Where Most Needed Fund”. Not a great look.

Two lessons from this:

  1. Personalisation MUST sound natural and conversational. Someone needed to come up with more natural language for this group of people whose donations went to “Where Most Needed”. Even something like the following would have been a vast improvement.

Will you give a gift to the most urgent emergencies to help meet these needs?

OR

Will you give a gift to make up a critical shortfall to help meet these needs?

  1. Run personalisation test versions on EVERY segment you mail. I do wonder whether someone was just in a hurry and missed this. Or whether this segment was added at the last minute and the personalisation not checked. I’d prefer to believe it was that kind of mistake (it happens to the best of us) rather than accept someone read this slowly and carefully on the proof and thought it was okay to send.

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