Direct Mail

Grappling With Growth
March 1, 2006

You would think that after a hundred years, a nonprofit could kick back a bit and maybe even rest on its laurels. After all, it’s been there, done that — right?

Not necessarily so, says Kurt Aschermann, senior vice president and chief marketing and development officer of Atlanta-based Boys and Girls Clubs of America, which was founded in Boston in 1906.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
March 1, 2006

A professor stood before his class, picked up a large jar and filled it with golf balls. He asked his students if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

Then he poured pebbles into the jar. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. Again he asked if the jar was full, and the students responded, “Yes.” Next he poured sand into the jar, and it filled up everything else. Again he asked the students if the jar was full, and they said, “Yes.”

The "Up and Out" Fallacy
March 1, 2006

I’ve heard the explanation so many times now that I’m sick of it. It goes something like this: “When our direct-mail donors give more than $1,000 in a single year, we move them out of the regular mail program and over to the upper-level or even the major-donor program. They deserve special treatment.”

The dollar threshold might be different from organization to organization, but the underlying thinking is the same: Once donors reach a certain giving level, they need to be “protected” from the regular direct-mail appeal program.

Taking Control: KCET Staying Top of Mind — and Mail Pile
January 1, 2006

Life as a PBS station is a tough gig. Providing much-needed programming related to news, history, the arts and education made possible by hard-won donor support, public broadcasting easily can be taken for granted amid the mass of television channels available today.

The Importance of ‘Thank You’
January 1, 2006

As your mother said, saying “thank you” is really important. For nonprofit organizations, it’s essential. In fact, if you don’t express gratitude quickly and well, your donors are likely to give somewhere else.

The Power of the Postscript
December 4, 2005

Seventy-nine percent of donors and prospects who open direct mail appeals will read the postscript first, maintains direct mail copywriting and creative consultant Ray Jutkins. Only the running headline and Johnson Box at the top of the letter fetch more attention, he says, and a good P.S. can help you reach your direct mail objective by restating the benefits or offer, or urging action. “The primary thing not to do with your P.S. is state a new fact, introduce a new idea or start fresh with a different thought,” Jutkins cautions. “The P.S. is a place to repeat the call to action, remind the

Direct Mail: How Much is Too Much?
November 1, 2005

I’m often asked, “How many fundraising appeals should we send to our donors each year?” The question usually comes after some senior executive or board member has complained to a fundraising manager about overly aggressive appeal frequency. Or after a few donors have written to complain about “too much mail.”

A Fundraising Tour de Force
November 1, 2005

You don’t have to be a cyclist to know who Lance Armstrong is and what he’s accomplished. The seven-time Tour de France winner and survivor of testicular cancer is a mainstay in the media — whether he’ll compete for his eighth Tour de France win next year; his recent engagement to singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow; or his organization, the Austin, Texas-based Lance Armstrong Foundation, which raises funds to fight cancer through education, advocacy, and public health and research programs.

Don't Mess With the Message
October 1, 2005

Everyone likes a premium. But as it turns out, if it doesn’t tie into an organization’s mission, donors won’t respond as well as if it did.

At least that’s how it turned out for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, which works to preserve the legacy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., and educate the public about the impact of the Vietnam War.

From the Hart
October 1, 2005

It’s safe to say Benjamin Hart is a fan of direct mail. In his book, “Fund Your Cause With Direct Mail: Secrets of Successful Direct Mail Fundraising,” Hart takes a comprehensive look at the benefits of direct mail and how they can be harnessed to capture more funding for nonprofit organizations, tracing everything from the role direct mail had in the American Revolution and in strengthening democracy, to the importance it plays in conjunction with the Internet.