[Editor's note: This is part 1 of a four-part series.]
It's no secret that smaller organizations have smaller fundraising budgets and fewer resources at their disposals than the larger organizations. But that doesn't mean they should use that as an excuse in their fundraising.
There are many strategies smaller nonprofits can employ to get results that mirror or even top those of the big players in the sector. In their session, "20 Big Direct Marketing Ideas for Small Nonprofits," at the 2012 Washington Nonprofit Conference, Eliza Temeles, senior account executive at MKDM; Jill Batcheller, membership manager at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; and Alicia Toles, annual giving and donor data manager at Food and Friends, shared 20 direct-response fundraising strategies tailored to smaller organizations. Here are ideas 1-5.
Temeles said smaller organizations should try to send direct mail in unbranded outer envelopes. She shared an example from the Southern Environmental Law Center. It sent its appeal in a plain, yellow envelope with no logo or images. All that was on the OE were the recipient's name and address, as we'll as the return address — both in simple type. It had no branding at all and wasn't anything special to look at, but Temeles said the piece had great results — and this technique is a good way to keep direct-mail costs down.
2. Gang print
"One of the issues with smaller organizations is how expensive everything is," Temeles said. "That's why it's important to carefully plan printing. See if you can print as many mailings as you can at the same time. It helps keep the cost per donor down."
She provided two examples from clients:
- Two acquisition mailings of 25,000 pieces printed separately cost $7,198 each. When printed together, they cost $6,146 each — a savings of $2,105. That resulted in an 8.7 percent decrease in the cost per donor, from $81 to $74.
- Two appeals of 5,000 pieces cost $3,157 each printed separately. Printed together, they cost $2,461 each — a savings of $1,393. The impact was a 9.7 percent decrease in the cost to raise a dollar, from 30 cents to 27 cents.
"The more you can print at the same time, the better it is for costs and ROI," Temeles said. "If you can plan out mailings and get them together early, go for it."