Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ask strategy in a recession

Another question: Should we adjust our ask strategy in a recession?

Good one. And again, hard to know the answer without testing. By ask strategy, I mean the amount that ask donors for. It is a bit more complex than this, but basically we tend to ask people for about 1.25 - 1.5 x their lst gift in appeals. In other words a donor who gave $100 last appeal may be asked for $125 in our next mailing.

The amount would be personalised in the copy eg 'Please will you make a special donation of $125 this Christmas...' with the response coupon matching the amount. So should we ask the donor for $100 instead?

Well I think that if a recession hurts averages or response rates then tinkering with ask strategy is more likely to exasperate the harm than mitigate.

However, Pareto hasn’t been working since the last big recession, so my evidence is based on my experience (when I worked at Mind in the UK we took more bullish approaches during financial problems which certainly did no harm).

So, my advice is NOT change to ask strategy, but if you have the volumes - please test it! And if you do, please let me know the result.

Sean Triner

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