Should I mention the recession in my appeal copy?
eg 'times are difficult, but we’re reliant on your funds and don’t want to put our programmes in jeopardy' or 'we need your gift more than ever'.
Tough one, because I believe in honesty and integrity in all donor communications and it is silly to pretend a recession isn't happening. My instinct is to mention it. But their is the worry of whether we are introducing a barrier - ie a reason not to give.
So instinct aside, Kimberly Mackenzie of Lake Simcoe Conservation Foundation in Canada said she heard 'Lots of people are saying it is dangerous'. I am not worried about contradicing 'lots of people' but am worried about giving the wrong advice.
So let's look into this further...
The most successful early mail appeal Pareto Fundraising sent out back in 2003, mentioned 'economic uncertainty following the war, SARS, bush fires and ...' it raised very close to the entire annual appeal income for the charity in one mailing so mentioning economic woes there didn't seem to harm things.
However, I got feedback about another test from another charity (which I blogged) reckoning not to mention it.
The bottom line is you should be honest. If it is relevant to you, you should tell the truth!
So, I think you should consider mentioning it if:
- It has an impact on your services (ie we need more money because more people need our help)
- You have lost funding, ie corporates dropped out, event cancelled and you would have to stop a service because of it - but don't be specific, people would not feel motivated by replacing money that some nasty bank promised, then withdrew
I reckon it is all to do with how it is written, and needs very skilled copywriter but on balance, the safe tip is probably not to mention it.
Finally, I think there would be no harm in mentioning it in thank you letters: 'we know times are difficult, so we’re extra appreciative of your gift ...'
We will hopefully test and I will look for more test feedback...Please people - anyone who tests, please share feedback and preferably details of the test.