Can Using Color Increase Donations?

Meet the writer: Karen Pieper

Hi, I'm Karen! I've been in the industry for 21 years and can't wait to share my perspective on all things direct mail. I'm currently the Digital Marketing Manager at Letter Jacket Envelopes and deal with tasks from managing the website, facilitating conversations with customers, and much more!

Whether you’re in charge of raising donations for your favorite cause, charity or campaign, you always want to reach or exceed your goal. What are some tools to help you do just that? Think about the last time you picked up your mail. As you sort hrough the vast, precariously teetering stack of envelopes, what moved you to open certain envelopes sent from various unknown sources rather than immediately tossing them into the recycling bin or trash? Did the more colorful envelopes hold your interest a little longer? Were those envelopes more likely to make the cut? For most people, that answer would be yes. Color has a tremendous impact on our emotions and behavior whether or not we realize it at that exact moment. So can using color increase donations?

The short answer to that question would be yes. The longer answer is also yes, but revealed in a more interesting, thought-provoking manner as we delve into how color impacts us, why it impacts us, and how we can harness the use of color for our benefit. Colors can be used to stimulate the senses, affecting our emotions and resulting behavior. Studies have shown they can even change the way a person perceives the temperature in a room. If the room is painted a warm color, like orange, yellow or red, people report that it is several degrees warmer. If that same room is painted in pale blue or green shades, people think it is actually several degrees cooler.  Tremendous amounts of research have gone into the impact and perception of different colors. So can using color increase donations? The results are not universal, as cultural preferences can definitely have an impact, but by targeting your specific audience and using a correspondingly pleasing color you should be able to increase responsiveness to your chosen campaign.

Studying the Impact of Different Colors

The impact of a large number of colors does seem fairly widespread, however, the information used for this article focuses more on the impact of color as perceived by western civilizations. Different countries can have very different responses to colors so it’s important to target your intended audience appropriately. Warm colors like bright red, yellow and orange generate thoughts of fire and stimulate excitement and often hunger as well. It is not by accident that a majority of restaurants, particularly fast food establishments, use those colors in their ads and logos. The reason? Those same colors are known to stimulate the appetite. Orange, red and yellow also remind people of home, family gatherings, and good value. Cool colors, like pale blue, green or violet, are associated with tranquility, knowledge, and understanding. Pale blue can have a calming effect and is often associated with health and healing. Darker shades of blue are usually associated with dependability and integrity, which make it a popular choice for business ads and logos of financial institutions. This also explains the use of dark blue as a primary color for the uniforms of the military, mail carriers, and police officers.

Researchers have found that the color green has been linked to increased creativity and broader minded thinking, which means all government offices should immediately be painted green. It is also, not surprisingly, strongly associated with nature, growth, and regrowth. Red seems to have almost the opposite effect. When people see the color red their reactions become faster and more forceful. It provides a short-lived boost of energy and at the same time reduces analytical thinking…think fast and impulsive. This could also explain the long-held belief that red cars cost more to insure.

The color purple has long been associated with royalty and is often associated with the realm of magic and mystery.  Interestingly enough, it is a now a color commonly used in the advertising of anti-aging products. Blue is the most accepted and most common “favorite” color worldwide. This could be a throwback to our ancestors’ perception of blue as something good, as in a blue sky or the blue of a watering hole. The ceiling of old farmhouse porches were often painted a pale sky blue because it was thought to bring good luck and good weather.

Yellow inspires strong emotions of like or dislike. It is used to indicate caution, as in yield signs or blinking yellow lights, and to persuade people to act quickly, which is why it is a common color used in “for sale” signs. Black and white are also colors that inspire strong reactions. Black is a color that particularly inspires the strongest emotions. It can be used to indicate elegance, power or luxury and is typically associated with the marketing of luxury brands. It also has a strong connection with the perception of evil depending on the context in which it is used. White often represents purity, perfection, and cleanliness. They are very popular colors used in advertising because of the strong contrast they provide when using a third highlight color.

The Importance of Targeting

Perceptions of colors can vary depending on location, the gender of the target audience and cultural conditioning. Regardless of those factors, 85 percent of buying decisions are shown to be influenced by color.  So can color increase donations? Absolutely! The impact of color cannot be more strongly emphasized. If you want to increase responsiveness to your fund-raising efforts, definitely harness the power of color. Whatever color you choose to use, make sure to take advantage of Letter Jacket’s high-quality envelopes, available in multiple sizes, shapes, and colors. Each envelope can also be printed with custom art courtesy of Letter Jacket’s intuitive ordering system.

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