Answer to attracting more responses from previous blog post

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you’ll know that I don’t like holding back from readers so I am feeling that I need to “spill the beans” from my last post (where I only gave a teaser but no answer).

Here are the facts:

  • Sent one beautiful post card (with easy, prepaid reply card) to 7,000 long-term direct mail donors: 0.0% response rate.
  • (6 months later) Sent 4,000 out of the same 7,000 donors a survey requesting their help and opinions: an “out of this universe” response (more than 50 new society members, 100+ prospects, etc…).

So, what did the brain research as reported by Professor Russell James have to do with the answer?  Mainly, one simple issue that should impact how we approach drawing out prospects in our marketing.  That issue is what Professor James called  “the first-stage defense to death reminders (bequest planning) is avoidance.”

In other words, Professor James hit upon an obvious challenge when promoting planned gifts.  Most people (more than 50%) have not come to terms with their own mortality (less than 50% of U.S. population have any estate planning docs!).  When confronted with a death reminder, most people’s subconscious instinct is avoidance!  No wonder our nice newsletters and postcards that try to put charitable estate planning up front often fail miserably.

What was an answer suggested by Professor James?  “To reach a larger audience, communicate bequest information through mixed packaging (obliquely) (Don’t lead with death).”

And, this little piece of advice is exactly what Market Smart (the vendor that put together our survey program) used in developing this approach.  Once you get a prospect actively engaged (i.e. answering questions), the bequest question is the middle doesn’t stop them from finishing the survey.

And what did we find?  40% of that particular group had some level of interest in a planned gift to institution.

We just needed to approach them from a different direction!

There is a lot more from the brain research that I cover in the webinar (which was called “Understanding the Planned Giving Donor from Brain Images?”).  If the topic interests you, CLICK HERE, pay through PayPal (price now $19.99), and we’ll send you the link to watch the 1 hr session.

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