11 Simple Ways to Increase Direct-Mail Fundraising
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Fundraising in today’s economy is a major challenge. To maximize results, it’s critical to keep down costs, mail smarter and target your message to your audience. Below are 11 simple tips to follow when getting ready for that next, all-important direct-mail appeal.
- Know your audience. Sometimes organizations think they know who their donors are or who their best prospects might be. Intuition is no replacement for the precise knowledge that technology can provide. Analyze your database with data segmentation technology to identify who your donors are and what factors motivate their charitable giving. This process illuminates “look-alike” prospects as well. As a result, you can mail fewer pieces, save postage and increase ROI.
- Use donor demographics and giving profiles to understand what messages resonate with your donors. Then, use this knowledge to word your ask stream for specific donors and donor groups. Exploit digital printing capabilities to personalize copy at multiple points within a package.
- Remember that stories can be potent fundraising vehicles. Don’t be afraid to share how past giving has helped recipients and communities, or detail the specific programs and services underwritten by their support. Connecting gifts to results makes donors feel good about giving.
- Keep messaging hopeful, personal and consistent. It's important to paint an honest, moving picture of the problem you're raising money to address, which isn't always pretty. But donors also need to know that their donations can make a difference. Speak to them like individuals, and be sure your messaging is consistent across all channels and from appeal to appeal.
- Don’t forget the power of a “Thank You.” Have volunteers call your best donors on the phone just to say thank you for past gifts — without any ask. Then, in a subsequent ask, include language reminding them about the call. Making this connection often lifts the response rate.
- Keep ask letter length to the minimum necessary to present the cause, make the pitch and state the call to action.
- Correlate the ask string to the most recent contribution (MRC) or the highest previous contribution (HPC). Consider using named giving levels, based on MRC/HPC, in some appeals to move donors to higher giving levels.
- Remember that package creatives (i.e., color, design) impact donor receptivity and open rates. They convey a message, too. So, use warm, positive colors and designs.
- Include teasers on the envelope to capture the addressee’s interest and increase open rates. Simple words such as “Did You Know …” can make the difference between a message that is read and one that is never opened.
- Consider retaining a marketing firm that can handle most, if not all, aspects of the direct-mail process, including creative, graphics, printing and mailing. Beyond keeping costs down, it gives you better control over the process.
- Employ a team approach. Team representation should include members from management, development staff and the marketing firm.
Kirk Swain and Bob Salta are principals of DirectMail.com, a provider of integrated direct-marketing solutions. To contact Kirk or Bob, please e-mail Kswain@DirectMail.com or Rsalta@DirectMail.com, or call 1.888.690.2252.