Tried, True, and Tested!

Here at the Meals on Wheels Co-op, preparations have begun for our annual fall acquisition campaign to acquire new donors for our partners – a critical component of any individual giving program. And every year we hear a common and understandable question: ‘Why are we mailing the same package as last year?’ It seems so counterintuitive to mail the same thing in mailing after mailing. But there is a very good reason for it!

You see, acquisition mailings are sent to prospective donors who have not yet made a gift to your organization. But that’s the goal: to make a strong case to them so that they will donate! So you should mail a proven package that has generated a strong response rate in previous mailings. That’s why the acquisition control letter copy and overall design is more or less the same as it was in previous campaigns. If it’s worked before, it will work again.

In our Meals on Wheels Co-op, we have created a very strong acquisition control package for the fall that focuses on holiday meals. Our Meals on Wheels Co-op partners routinely generate high response rates and a positive net revenue (whereas most nonprofit organizations have to invest heavily in order to acquire new donors). The acquisition control is a proven performer – the result of years of testing in order to achieve great response rates and average gifts.

Additionally, direct marketing studies have shown that it often takes 5-7 “touches” in order for a prospective donor to make their first gift. So, mailing the same package to prospects helps to remind them about your organization’s work and, hopefully, in time, they will make their first gift.

But how do we know that this package is the most effective?

What would make it better?

The answer is: We conduct a test!

Testing is critical in any direct mail program in order to know if you can increase your already great results, or, conversely, to see if you can achieve an increase in a particular metric – like average gift or response rate – that may not be as high as you would like.

In the Meals on Wheels Co-op, we have 15 years of test results that have led us to the current acquisition control package. Through the years, we have tested many aspects of the package: different fonts, a shorter 2-page letter against the current 4-page letter … and time and again, the current package wins. It generates a higher response rate and/or a higher average gift than what we test against it. Because it continues to generate great results for our clients, we maintain it.

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!

And so we commence another year of fall and year-end fundraising with the goal of helping our Meals on Wheels Co-op partners bring in as many new donors to their organizations as possible using our proven effective acquisition control package. And, we’ll be testing again to ensure that the package is as strong as it can be. Collectively, our partners gained 50,000 new donors in 2015 – we can’t wait to count how many more are acquired this year! Happy fundraising!