Fundraisers: Don’t tell donors to “reply” today!

How often have you read (or written) the following at the end of a fundraising letter:

“Please reply today!”

Moving forward, I invite you to reconsider use of the word “reply.”  In fact, I encourage you to drop it from your fundraising vocabulary.

Reply” is a direct marketing word.  It’s a transactional word.  It’s not a fundraising word.

Direct response fundraising copy is effective when it’s personal.  One to one.  Like talking.

When you write a personal letter, do you ever ask the recipient to “reply“?

In business correspondence, ever say “please reply“?

No, you say “get back to me” or something like that if you want a response.

In fundraising, people are more likely to do what you ask when your request is very specific:

“Please mail your donation today!”

Or be more explicit with …

“Please mail your donation today in the envelope proviude!”

When possible, make the urgency more concrete with something like…

“Mail your donation today, before the Matching Gift Deadline!”

Anticipating reactions, here a two exceptions …

1)  On envelopes, it often works to say “The courtesy of a reply is requested”   But that isn’t really asking for a reply.  It’s a language convention, really just expressing that you are approaching the reader with great polity.   (R.S.V.P. is another convention.  You’re not asking the reader to speak French.)

2)  In email, I often say “Please ‘reply’ with any questions.”   With the word reply in quotes.  This is just asking the reader to hit the “reply” button in the email client.

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