Five Maples’ Fundraising Blog

How to design a donor-centric reply card that works

A reply card is the donor’s chance to interact with you. Replying to you is their part of the conversation. It should be enjoyable, rewarding, and easy for them!

A good way to provide your donors with a simple yet thorough interaction is to use a 7 x 8.5 reply form. Regardless of size, all response cards should contain the basics—

  • Your organization’s logo, address, and website
  • Name and phone number of someone to call
  • Ways to make a gift (Check, credit card, by phone, website)
  • Donor or mailing ID numbers for ease of recording gifts received

Consider which of these other donor-centric features you should incorporate into your reply card to show that you know—and care—about your donors!

(Please note- these samples show a wide variety of options as an example. You should pick which ones work best for your organization. Don’t try to include them all!):

Five Maples Best Practice Reply Card1. Variable Affirmation Sentence

A variable affirmation sentence is a great way to add personalization. You can include variables like the board member who signs the letter, different verbiage for first-time donors and continued donors (renew my support vs. want to support”).

2. Last Gift Acknowledgement

A last gift acknowledgement with a thank you should include the amount and date of the donor’s previous gift. You appreciate and remember their prior giving. You also set a giving benchmark for the donor to meet or exceed.

3. Variable Ask String

A variable ask string based on the donor’s giving history is proven to help match or upgrade their last gift. In fact, a person who is provided with choices is more likely to make a decision to donate.

4. Pre-populated Donor Information 

Variable fields can conveniently pre-populate the donor’s name, address, and phone and email (if you have it). Include enough space for the donor to make corrections or additions.

5. Monthly Giving Option 

In addition to a one-time gift, offer an option to convert to monthly sustained giving. Monthly donors have the highest renewal rates.

6. Annual Giving Checkmarks

Annual Giving Checkmarks can be a great tool to help donors visualize their loyalty or notice gaps in their giving history.

*Be cautious! While you differentiate between capital campaign fund and annual fund giving, your donors may not! Someone who gave to the capital campaign this year might be offended that their giving check box is blank—“But I sent them a check!” Make sure the title of this portion reflects the exact giving information you are referencing (Recent gifts to the Annual Fund). Or, add a checkbox for campaign and/or other types of giving.*

7. Tax Deductible Statement

A tax deductibility statement reminds the donor that their gift benefits the organization and themselves come tax time.


Other reply card ideas:

  • Options for designating the gift to a specific area of need allow you to cater to the donor’s passions—like cancer care, early childhood development, etc.
  • Giving circle or society choices based on giving amounts can give the donor a feeling of exclusiveness and pride.Giving Circles
  • A list of suggested amounts and what these amounts accomplish help the donor better visualize the impact of their donation. They could help bump a donor up to a higher giving level.Suggested Amounts
  • Employer match information provides an easy way for the donor to double their impact.
  • Bequests or legacy gifts are important to highlight. While the gift may not be immediate, your loyal, long-term donors should be aware of planned giving options.Leave a Legacy
  • Offer their gift to be in honor or memory of someone, creating a personal and important connection between the donor and the organization.

Remember, your reply card is an opportunity for the donor to manage their relationship with you. The outcome of your design should be an informative yet user-friendly piece that compels the donor to join, protect, participate, and feel good.

Head over to our Reply Card Gallery to take a look at some samples which mix and match effective donor-centric elements. And then call us to see how we can help design a reply card that’s right for your organization!

We've got your back! 

Five Maples helps fundraisers save time, raise more money, and enjoy doing it! Give us a call today for a free consultation. Call Brett, our Director of Nonprofit Practice, at 800-437-7780 ext 102, or Email Us Today!

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