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Ugly Betty Giving Day History Table

Ugly Betty is Definitely Not Ugly

To most of the world, “Ugly Betty” was the name of an ABC original TV series starring America Ferrera. However, in the world of fundraising professionals, an ugly betty is an effective way to renew gifts from prior donors using a very direct, invoice-style approach. Fundraising appeals can vary in style – from creative self-mailers and postcards, to standard letters and invoice-style appeals – and they are used for various reasons.

A common misconception of an ugly betty is that it is indeed ugly. This is not the case! An ugly betty is simply an invoice-style appeal so, although it may not include many photos, there are plenty of creative elements that can be incorporated.

What’s so effective about an ugly betty? If you look at all of the mail that you get throughout the year and you see the piece of mail that looks like it may be an invoice or some sort of bill, it is often that it will be one of the first pieces that you open or set aside to open. It is an instinct to pull out the “more important” looking pieces to make sure that you don’t miss any official documents.

You might ask, “Why wouldn’t every appeal be an invoice style then?” If every appeal were an invoice style, you would reduce the effectiveness of why the concept of an ugly betty was created. Many organizations send ugly betties towards the end of their fiscal year to try to capture those prior donors that haven’t given yet.

Here are 3 components of an ugly betty to take into consideration:

CREATIVE: An ugly betty at one point in time might have lived up to the name, but these invoice-style appeals most definitely do not need to be ugly. Yes, there may not be many photos on the appeal, but there are certainly different creative elements that help with the effectiveness of the piece. The simplicity of an invoice-style appeal emphasizes prior giving, lack of giving this fiscal year, and has a strong call-to-action of donating.

ENVELOPE: How do you know when you get a bill in the mail? There is usually a special type of envelope. Whether it is a window envelope, or it has messaging on the envelope, it’s important to entice your donors to open your direct mail piece.

DATA SEGMENTATION: Organizations often have an immense amount of data. It’s important that you use it! When data and direct mail align, there are endless possibilities. Data is a critical component to an effective ugly betty. It helps with showcasing the donor’s history and know the appropriate level ask to do. For example, including a chart that shows that Donor A has given $25 in 2015, 2016, 2017, and has yet to give in 2018, it would be appropriate to include an ask that has $25 as an option as opposed to $1,000.

Interested in seeing samples of creative invoice-style appeals?

BCG Connect works with fundraising professionals to implement creative direct marketing solutions into their annual giving campaigns. By sharing new marketing and fundraising information, BCG Connect helps clients identify, acquire and retain their donors.

Have you incorporated and personalized ugly betties to optimize your annual giving direct marketing plan? Connect with us to learn more and request samples of these invoice-style appeals!

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BCG Staff Writer
Fundraising Appeal Letter Hacks

Stand Out From The Crowd(ed Mailbox): 5 Fundraising Appeal Letter Hacks

Add some muscle to your next appeal letter to help it stand out in a crowded mailbox.

During the holiday season, everything that comes into your mailbox, from bills to credit card offers, are adorned in festive colors and glitter. So, it helps to add something special to an appeal letter to ensure that it will stand out from the colorful crowd.

Have your next appeal letter move into the spotlight, no matter the time of year, by including one or more of these strategies:

1. Include Images in the Letter:

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Adding photos to the body of the letter helps to give a face to the story, to the need, and to the reason a donor is giving. Photos also help engage a reader in the letter by helping them make a personal connection to it.

2. Add a Colorful Buck Slip Alongside the Letter:

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This mailing insert, approximately the size of a dollar bill (which is how it gets its name), provides room for additional graphics, images, and appeal information that can help enumerate the impact of a donation.

3. Use Color and Unique Typography in the Body of the Letter:

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By adding color and typographical emphasis, the reader can easily find the most important parts of your appeal letter. This also helps to break apart larger blocks of text to be easier to read and thus keeps their attention longer.

4. Add Artwork or a Tagline to the Outer Envelope:

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The envelope is an important part of the overall appeal package, but is so often overlooked (both during the design process and once it’s in the mailbox). The design of it helps to encourage the donor to open it.

5. Personalize the letter by including:

  • The recipient’s last gift amount: this helps to remind the donor of how much they previously gave and also gives them a point of reference for another gift.
  • A targeted ask amount: by personalizing the appeal letter with a specific ask for each letter, rather than a general ask, this helps to give the donor an understanding of how they can specifically help.
  • The recipient’s class year: by referencing a specific year, you help remind them of their experiences at the school and the reasons for giving back.
  • Add a P.S. line that repeats the call to action: use this important part of the letter to summarize the entire message – the ask, deadline, and call to action – so that when the reader’s eyes go to the bottom of the page, they have all the information.

What techniques have you used? These 5 ideas are just some of the wonderful strategies available. What have you found to be helpful?

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BCG Staff Writer