Making an ask in your thank you letter/receipt? That’s forward of you

ThanksI recently attended the F&P Magazine Australiasian Fundraising Forum in Sydney. I was delighted to hear a presentation by Derek Glass from Ask2, which focused on Ask2 clients who ask for an additional donation in their donor thank you/acknowledgement/receipt. I was even happier that Derek and Ask2 had some data to prove that the fundraising methodology works.

US organisations, like the medical centre where I formally worked, have been including asks in donor thank you letters for years. I remember the reaction the first time I developed an acknowledgement program and included a test of asks in the letters/receipts. Development staff thought I was, at best, out of my mind and, at worst, making donors feel less valued for a gift they had already given. What were the results? $100,000 more to the bottom line in year one.

Those of you who have seen me present know I have told organisations in Asia-Pacific they need to test making an ask in their donor acknowledgement program. I suggest a three part test:

  1. Letter/receipt with simple thanks (no ask, simply an acknowledgement of the gift and expression of gratitude)
  2. Letter/receipt with a “soft ask” (a giving envelope without any other sort of call to action)
  3. Letter/receipt with a direct ask (a thank you letter with a direct ask and a personalised response device)

There have been times when I mentioned this idea in Asia Pacific and I have received a dramatic reaction from audiences. I think they see it as the aggressive American fundraiser in me. Some say that if they suggested such a thing in their nonprofit organisation they would be directed to the exit sign. Without at least testing making a direct ask in your donor thank you letters, might you be leaving money on the table?

Do you include an ask in your donor acknowledgement letters or receipts? Let me hear from you.