Creating Appeals That Are Simple Yet Effective

Posted on 03/25/2015

Ugly-Betty-PictureThey call her Ugly Betty. And, while she may be lacking in fashion sense, she knows a thing or two about renewing gifts from prior donors. Who is she? She’s a no-frills direct mail package that’s gaining popularity among annual giving programs. She doesn’t contain a wordy case for support or compelling pictures. In fact, she looks more like an invoice than a traditional fundraising appeal.

“There’s a lot of noise out there,” says one annual fund manager, referring to mailboxes cluttered with charity appeals and consumer offers, “and Ugly Betty helps convey our most important message in a succinct way. In addition to our more traditional letters, we send as many as four Ugly Betties to our recently lapsed donors each year.”

Megan Doud, Director of Annual Giving at The University of Michigan, describes Ugly Betty as one of their most successful appeals. “On average, we see a 14% response rate for prior year donors and 3.5% response rate for 1-2 year lapsed donors. Some schools and colleges see response rates from priors of around 20-25%!” See an example below.

Today’s donors are busy. Even those who are committed to supporting your organization can use a little reminder now and then. Ugly Betty may not be the best approach when it comes to acquiring new donors, but she may be able to help you convey an important message to your most loyal supports: it’s time to renew your support!

Want to learn more? CLICK HERE for AGN’s Webinar on Rethinking Direct Mail Appeals.

Ugly Betty Michigan


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