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Insights from Karen Climer about fundraising and nonprofit organizations

More Thoughts On Using Address Labels, Notepads, And Other Premium Items

May 30th, 2014 by Karen Climer

In my last post, I shared some research about thank you premiums.  Now that you know the facts, I’m sure you are dying to hear my opinion.  (Just humor me for a minute!)

I received this book as a back-end premium from the Southern Poverty Law Center.   This is relevant to their mission.  If the donor reads the book (which I did), she will become more interested (and hopefully more involved) in the mission.

I received this book as a back-end premium from the Southern Poverty Law Center. This is relevant to their mission. If the donor reads the book (which I did), she will become more interested and hopefully more involved in the mission.

I’m not crazy about front-end or back-end premiums because I try to focus on giving for the mission.  At the same time, I understand that everyone has their own reason for giving and for some people that reason is the free gift or the feeling of reciprocity.  So I’m not opposed to using them, but it must be related to the mission.

There is a certain environmental organization that is constantly sending me free notepads.  This is absolutely counter to their mission.  We are cutting down trees so that they can make notepads in order to raise money to save the trees!  This is a terrible choice for this organization.  Surely, they can find a more green premium to use, maybe they could send me some flower seeds on the front-end premium or a cloth grocery bag on the back-end   A notepad might be a good choice for some organizations, but it’s the wrong one for an environmental organization.

If you are going to go through the time and expense of using a front-end or back-end premium, make it something that fits your mission.  For example, a soup kitchen or food bank could send free recipe cards or a cookbook.  An orchestra or opera company could send a free CD.  A literacy organization could send a bookmark.   The civil rights book I received from Southern Poverty Law Center was an excellent choice for their mission.

There seems to be a misconception that if something has your logo on it, then it is related to your mission.  A coffee mug that says Orlando Theater Company is not any more related to the mission of a theater company than a coffee mug that says Orlando Law Firm is.  Your coffee-drinking donors might like the mug, but it is not related to theater.  I’m not saying don’t put your logo on it.  I’m saying if you want to put your logo on it, make sure it connects to your mission even without your logo.

If you are using a back-end premium, know that certain things work better on the selling side than on the redeeming side.  I’ve worked with performing arts organizations that would offer backstage tours or open rehearsals.  Donors think that is super exciting.  “Wow!  I’ll get to see the orchestra rehearsing.  That sounds like fun.”  People upgrade their donation level so they can have this benefit.  Then when the actual rehearsal comes around, very few donors actually attend the rehearsal.  It works better on the selling side than on the redeeming side.

People give for all different reasons.  Some give because they want the back-end premium you promised.  Some give because they feel the need to reciprocate for your front-end premium.  That doesn’t mean they are giving for the wrong reasons.  It just means that we have to figure out what works for each individual donor and treat them accordingly.

Posted in Acknowledgment, Direct Mail

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