It will be – okay? Just bear with me a second. This will be much more interesting if you let me start by telling you about an exhibition which is on at the KK Outlet, just around the corner from Bluefrog towers. It’s called passive aggressive notes. You may be familiar with the website.
Displayed on the walls are the angry outpourings of disappointed individuals who have returned home to find their food eaten, dishes dirtied and feelings trampled upon by their yobbish housemates.
Now outside of Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo, ‘Alines’ are few and far between. My all time favourite is this twenty-four year old, pipe-smoking queen, who fought off the French with her battle-cry ‘the white man is not invincible’.
So you can imagine my delight when my fellow Bluefrog creatives pointed out that one of the passive aggressive notes was addressed to an Aline, who is rather challenging to live with due to the hygiene choices she makes.
Over and beyond that, what really interested me is what these passive aggressive notes are written on. A few are on scraps of paper torn from reporter-style notebooks, but the vast majority are on post-it notes.
Post-it notes are the star of the show and it reminded me that they can be the star of a fundraising piece too.
A test that proves this was carried out by social scientist, Randy Garner. He sent out surveys to people with a request that they complete them (something that is done by many charities to raise funds or find out more about their supporters). For the initial test, three groups were created. And the survey was accompanied by one of the following.
- A handwritten post-it note with a request to fill out the survey
- A handwritten message on a cover note
- A cover letter
No prizes for guessing which resulted in the completion of the most surveys. 75% of post-it note recipients responded, 48% for group b and 36% for group c.
So post-it notes work, but why? Is it just the day-glo colour that attracts attention? Randy Garner was determined to find out and carried out a further test.
This time the survey was accompanied by:
- A handwritten post-it note as before
- A blank post-it note
- No post-it note
If it’s just the attention grabbing colour that’s doing the work, the first two groups should have got the same response – agreed? Well of course, the hand-written post-it note triumphed again with 69% response as opposed to 43% and 34%.
Garner’s conclusion is that people recognise the extra effort and personal touch that hand-writing a message and sticking it to the survey represents. I’d add to this. It lifts the mailing from being a mass-mailing to one that calls for your personal attention and, of course, this works for appeals too.
But there’s more.
Garner found that people who received the hand-written post-it note also returned the survey more promptly and gave more detailed and attentive answers.
People reciprocate the time and effort that they perceive goes into the communications they receive.
When the researcher made the post-it more personal still (adding his initials and ‘thanks’) the response rate was even higher.
The more personalised the request, the better the response. ( Remember my delight at the 'Aline' post-it note?)
And that can be done in so many ways when you are communicating with supporters.
If you want to read more about influence, there are some books suggested on this blog. And this particular study appears in the very readable ‘Yes! 50 secrets from the science of persuasion’ by Goldstein, Martin and Cialdini. (Don’t let it put you off, but you might also be interested to learn that this book is the subject of a disputed expenses claim by Conservative MP, Greg Clark).
In the meantime, let’s start a new list with all suggestions appreciated. Here are a few ways to make a communication to your supporters feel personal and given due care and attention.
- Attach a handwritten post-it note to whatever you want them to pay attention to – your letter, donation form or enclosure. Remember to sign off.
- Ensure you have their personal details correctly and use them correctly.
- Personalise every element that you can. I reckon a sticker on the survey saying specially prepared for Mr/s Supporter by Mr/s Charity worker (as well as the post-it note) would have done even better.
- Ultra-personalise your letter copy so you can recognise what a supporter has done for you, what they are interested in and how important they are to you.
- Highlight sections of a document you want a supporter to read. Or annotate and underline.
- A blue pen is a fundraiser’s best friend. It’s a must for letter sign offs but can you get your CEO to top and tail letters for your top 100 supporters for example?
- If you’re sending the supporter a document, make it look like a photocopy or cut out from a newspaper. That, like the post-it note, takes personal time and effort.
- Get your outer envelopes hand-written, ink-jetted and, most importantly, stamped.
- Make sure that any codes are as discreet as possible so supporters feel like a person not a number.
That’s it for now.