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Building A Rapid Response Plan: Are You Prepared?

Production Solutions

Direct marketers know the importance of deploying a message to the right people at the right time. In fact, many hours go into developing a strategy and plan to do just that. However, when a major external event occurs (think: natural disaster, political decision, etc.), do you have the rapid response framework in place to raise donors’ awareness and appeal to them for support?

We recommend developing an organization-wide response protocol now, so you are ready to jump into action when the need arises within 48 hours, 24 hours, or even that same day. Slow-moving organizations with the inability to respond quickly can lose donors, partners and grants if they cannot communication effectively during a time of crisis.

Here’s how you can take advantage of sudden opportunities and respond promptly:

Plan ahead. Don’t wait until a crisis comes up to look at your colleagues and say “we should do something”. Create a plan, test it and ensure the key individuals in your organization as well as outside partners and agencies are aware of your plan ahead of a disaster occurring. It’s also a really good idea to print hard copies of the plan.

Leverage your homepage. Update your website as soon as possible to capitalize on the traffic that will surge 24-48hours after the event. Move quickly! Even if it means updating your lightbox before you have the full creative and messaging finalized. Be informative and specific by outlining a clear call to action and sharing how donations will provide specific relief.

Don’t forget about social. Our phones seem to surge over tragedy these days. Deploy messaging on social media that mimics your homepage positioning even if it means getting this out ahead of your website updates.

Email is essential. We typically think of email campaigns as the fastest way to engage donors for a reason; it works and can be even more effective in a crisis if your timing is right. Build appealemail templates ahead of time that allow you to get to your donor base swiftly and leverage this opportunity to be informative around the event. Act quickly with the right partners and you’ll be getting your donors attention within hours.


Get in the mail. While many might think that direct mail campaigns need to be planned months ahead of time that is not always the case. Quick-turn mailings can be deployed and received in potential donors mailboxes in 3-4 days if you have the right partners lined up ahead of time. 

Leverage a USPS Informed Delivery campaign. Now might be the time to jump in on Informed Delivery. We’re finding an average of 8% of our clients’ mail files are signed up for the USPS service. This allows users to view their mail the morning before it arrives in the mailbox. With many users checking each morning to see what is going to arrive later that day, you can stand out by deploying a campaign which will pop-up in color to the top of their email or USPS dashboard where you’ll include a link to your website.

Cultivate new donors. If you have reacted quickly in the past, you’ll likely find that your disaster relief campaign has resulted in new donors. So, your plan should include how your organization will communicate and market to these new donors. Timing is key here! After acknowledging the emergency and the initial need to fund relief efforts, mention how your fundraising and emergency response results were able to help and how your broader mission relates to similar causes.

Keep donors informed. Take the extra steps to keep your Relief Response Donors updated on the event and explicitly define how their donation helped make a difference. You’ll want to, of course, let them know you’re thankful for their donation, but also report on how the relief efforts are going.

The PS team can help you secure your right-fit rapid response plan, well before the emergency occurs. We’re here to help your organization gain strong engagement and fundraising results, but more importantly, to help you support those in need when they need it the most.