20 Direct-Marketing Ideas for Small Nonprofits, Part 2
[Editor's note: This is part 2 of a four-part series. View part 1 here.]
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 6-10.
6. Explore homemade modeling
Build your own model with the data you have, Temeles said. Consider building your model with data such as:
- Date added
- E-mail behavior
- Event attendance
- Volunteer history
- ZIP code
"Use as much data as you can to develop models to target your donors and prospects better," Temeles said. "A commercial model often has a significant outright investment, but an in-house model is cheaper. There is still a cost in time and effort, but it is a smaller investment. Don't disregard your own internal information. Put it to work."
7. Get offline donors online and online activists offline
"In order to have a successful multichannel campaign, you have to have e-mail addresses as well as mail addresses. It's worth the investment," Temeles said.
She said it's possible to do this organically and provided the example of the Family Equality Council (FEC).
On its direct-mail piece, FEC included an e-mail collection tool on the reply device. However, the collection tool wasn't to sign up for the e-newsletter — a common offer to try and capture e-mail addresses. Rather, it was an offer to take an action, which encourages greater participation. There was also a drive to "put your gift to work faster" by going to the website, and the URL was included in different places — on the reply, included in an insert to share your story — with different calls to action.
The idea, Temeles said, is to provide different ways to get donors online.
"Keep it in front of donors everywhere. Get them to think about online. Put the URL everywhere," she said.
Likewise, she said you should ask for a mailing address anywhere you can online, as long as there is a good reason for it — provide an offer as an incentive to provide the mail address.
Temeles said it's always a good idea for smaller organizations to look at the larger organizations to see what they're doing and try implementing the lessons you take away on a smaller scale to fit your organization.
"Organizations with big budgets and file sizes do lots of testing and analytics. They can do the learnings for you," she said. "See what they're doing, and version it for your donors if it's suitable. Think about what the message is, and apply it to your own organization."
9. Tie it all together through multichannel marketing
Reinforce your message by adding that language to every channel — website, e-newsletter, social media, direct mail, etc. — Toles said.
"Have a concrete strategy on how to implement that. When designing a message and schedule, think of all the different pieces you already have to implement into the strategy," she said. "Tie it all together."
She provided an example from Food and Friends. Food and Friends implemented a direct-mail letter and an e-mail from Executive Chef Mark Locraft, with the e-mail phase going out before the direct-mail piece, and then a follow-up e-mail after the letter was mailed. Everything referenced the same campaign — the Summer Food Fund — and kept a consistent tone with the message coming from Locraft.
10. Experiment with e-mail testing
Toles suggested testing everything from subject lines to headlines, ask strings, length and language in your e-mail campaigns to improve e-mail strategies and learn more about your online donors.
She shared an ask string test from Food and Friends. In version 1, the ask string in the e-mail simply read: "A gift of $25, $50, $100 or more will mean so much to so many."
Version 2 provided a higher ask string with more detail: "$24 can help provide a day's worth of meals to one client; $100 can help a client receive a week of fresh produce; $560 can help give a client one month's worth of meals; $1000 can help deliver an entire day of meals to all our clients."
The more detailed, varied ask string test saw a 15 percent increase in response, Toles said.