burgerThere’s a marketing lesson to be learned from fast food. A popular fast food chain added a triple burger to its menu. Soon it saw sales of its double burger skyrocket.

The double burger, which once seemed like the most indulgent and excessive item on the menu, was now viewed as the “medium sized” option, just because there was a larger option available.

The psychology behind this phenomenon can help nonprofit marketers raise response rates. If your reply device includes a yes-or-no option, try adding a “maybe” to give recipients a chance to engage at a lower-risk level.

Look at almost any direct mail reply card, and you’ll see something like this:

YES! Enclosed is my donation to help XYZ organization change lives.

No. I cannot give at this time.

It’s an effective way of framing a reply, but adding a third option can boost response rates significantly.

YES! Enclosed is my donation to help XYZ organization change lives.

MAYBE. I can’t give today, but would like to receive your email newsletter.

No. I don’t choose to support XYZ.

By adding a low-risk response option, you’ve given a chance for a recipient to engage with your organization without insisting it’s all-or-nothing. This model can be used in direct mail, but has applications is social media and other online communications, as well. If you’re stating any offer as a “you’re either in or out” proposition, try and find a middle ground and include that in the offer as well.