Should Your Planned Giving Postcards Have A Reply Mechanism?

Clients and friends often ask if including a reply mechanism on their planned giving postcards is worth the added expense.

It depends on the circumstances, but generally, I do not feel it’s worth it.

As we all know, planned giving is a low-response business. So even with the most successful direct mail programs, we see very few reply cards actually filled out and returned. However, this does not mean your information is not getting read. It’s just that most people are not going to take the time to respond, on a whim, to questions about a subject that requires some in-depth thought and planning.

Remember: You are not selling sweepstakes. You’re educating. You’re reminding. And you’re building relationships.

Focus on Frequency

What does this mean for you? You’ll have additional opportunities to reach your prospects. Marketing 101 says the more touches the better. So nix the expensive response card and use the savings to send out more touches. Mail your marketing materials more often instead of including a reply mechanism.

After one or two postcards, you’ll have piqued some of your prospects’ interest. Card #3 might go on the fridge as a reminder to discuss it with the hubby. After card 4 or 5, maybe some of them will even call. Or you’ll call them to say “thank you” for a past annual gift, and they’ll remember those postcards and say, “What is this about some gift that pays me retirement income for life…?”

Bingo. A door just opened. Now’s your chance (have you practiced your elevator pitch?).

Two Caveats

Disclaimer #1: If your mailing quantity is quite high—say 30,000 pieces or more—then it’s a different ballgame. At those quantities, the pricing between the two products becomes essentially the same because of the volume.

Disclaimer #2:  I do believe there is a time and place for a response card. When and where? Well, for starters, solicitation letters are a good opportunity to enclose a reply vehicle. There is usually no extra cost, and a reader who has made it through an entire letter (as opposed to a postcard, which is just a 10-second read) is already more engaged, and therefore more likely to respond.

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