No Ask Boosts Fundraising Response

August 9, 2016       The NonProfit Times      

Leaders at World Vision Canada took an unorthodox approach in attempting to reengage donors who were unresponsive to other solicitations or calls to action. They sent notices asking the donors not to send more money.

The strategy stemmed from a desire to engage donors who weren’t lapsed, who remained on the file, but weren’t responding to the path World Vision Canada had laid out for them, James Carroll, director of support experience, told attendees of the 2016 Bridge to Integrated Marketing Conference in National Harbor, Md.

Treating donors as a cash resource wasn’t working, he said. The “auto-pilot” monthly sustainers weren’t responding to additional messaging and the risk of cancellations was on the horizon.

World Vision Canada leaders set goals to reengage the nonresponsive sustainers – find a way to get 10 percent of the audience to respond to any piece of messaging, have 2 percent of them to do so via email and to capture the email addresses of 10 percent.

They bested those goals, with a 20.4 percent response rate, email response rate of 8 percent and a 25-percent email capture rate among 59,000 passive donors. World Vision Canada deployed a “No Ask Solution,” according to David Trim, vice president and creative director at Russ Reid. Donors were surveyed on their lives, jobs, families and their current treatment from the organization.

Donors felt disconnected from the children they were supporting. In response, World Vision Canada sent out transparent envelopes requesting not money, but love. The first came with class-photo-like photos of the donors’ sponsored children asking simply to mail the photos back so that the children could share the photos with friends.

World Vision Canada sent out such messaging four times, each featuring things to send children such as backpack tags and sticker art, and no request for money. An email followed each mailing. A study of 800 of the donors showed that the likelihood of opening future messages based off of the “do not send money” language stood at 84 percent and 95 percent due to the accompanying photos.

The ability to keep sustainers engaged results in about $500 per year per donor for World Vision Canada, according to Carroll. “Retention is the new activation,” he said.