Whether you’re a print service provider, agency, not-for-profit or marketer, one of the most effective ways to run a solicitation campaign is to marry great writing, inspirational messages, and compelling images with the smart use of data to create the perfect letter. When done well, it is welcomed by recipients and serves as the trigger for giving. Part art and part science, the elements of a good letter combined with great printing and smart use of the envelope creates the perfect solicitation platform.
For every campaign, the starting point is often the goal and the mailing list. For most organisations there is considerable effort put into defining the goal for each campaign based on the financial objectives along with some attention on how to communicate the goal so that it is achievable – no one wants to end a campaign below their goal! The mailing list typically includes existing donors with a known profile and prospects who meet a similar profile. The hard work put in ahead of a mailing includes updating profiles and reviewing response rates. Does your profile include the donors preferred name and mode of address? Does it include any information that specifically links the donor to the organisation? If it does, you will want to use this information. If it doesn’t, this is a great time to enhance your database. With this work complete, it’s time to look at the messages that drive the solicitation.
Alan Cantor, of Alan Cantor Consulting, works closely with organisations that execute solicitation campaigns. He notes that charitable giving is driven by emotions in https://www.philanthropydaily.com/affairs-of-the-heart. The link that drives the desire to give is rooted in respect for the goals of an organisation or the people who run it. People, he says, give to people, and they give from the heart. So, with $10.6B donated by Canadians annually[i], getting the message correct becomes the solicitation imperative.
Use Cantor’s advice to make the message you send as important as the profiles you target. Once you have the salutation, which must address the donor by their preferred name, the next step is to engage the reader. What is the emotional marketing moment that will engage your donor? Will you tell a story of how the organisation has used funds from past campaigns to create a better community? Will you focus on a family or individual story? Can you spotlight a story that will resonate specifically with the donor? The more precise and personalised you are in your linkage, the deeper the connection!
You should have all types of stories in your library, and they should be fresh. Keeping the content current is essential to engagement. And don’t forget the call to action! It should be multi-dimensional. Tell donors how they can get involved to help the organisation meet its goals but remember to ask for the donation. That means wrapping the request into the story with more than a list of ways to donate. Make it clear how to donate and make it as easy as you can. Remember that the letter is engaging, but you cannot click on a link in a letter. Consider adding an augmented reality trigger, such as RICOH Clickable Paper™, or QR code link to bring your print to life and add a payment system that can be accessed from the donor’s phone. Avoid pointers to long web addresses. You might also work with your payment processor to set up donations by text. And if you accept cheques, consider including a prepaid and addressed envelope.

Keep the cardinal rules of solicitation firmly top of mind:

– Know your goal
– Know the donor
– Match a great story to every donor
– Keep the stories fresh
– Make it easy to donate
Finally, keep track of the response rate so you know what works and what doesn’t. Follow these rules and watch your solicitation mail perform!

Canadians are motivated to donate because we care for our fellow citizens and the social impact our causes create. At Ricoh, we feel it’s our duty to not only look out for our customers, suppliers and employees, but society and the planet, too. So when we pursue business success, there’s only one way we want to achieve it – responsibly.  Visit Ricoh Change Makers and see how we’re also inspiring our clients to redefine work and change. For better.
[i] Giving in Canada http://sectorsource.ca/research-and-impact/giving-research