4 Direct-Mail Fundraising Best Practices
Despite the numerous forecasts that direct mail is dead and the continual postage hikes over the past decade, direct-mail fundraising still brings in more money than any other fundraising channel. The key is to mail intelligently.
Sue Sena, founder of Sena Consulting and senior account manager of Tripi Consulting, offers her four top best practices for direct-mail fundraisers.
Direct mail 101: Appeal to the humanity of the donor
The most successful direct mail tugs at donors' heartstrings. It shows needs, uses personal stories and creates vivid imagery — often through emotional photos. And the best direct mail does that by connecting the donor and his or her dollars directly to the people that those dollars are serving, Sena says.
Make an emotional appeal that specifically tells the donor what her money will do to help fulfill your organization's mission. For instance, Smile Train does this extremely well with its before and after images of the children whose cleft palates it helps correct, tying the donor directly to the surgery.
Look for ways to keep costs down
Sena says she often tries to gang renewal and acquisition mailings when she can to help save on shipping and postage costs, mailing them together. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to trim costs — without affecting response, of course. Look for opportunities to co-mail, and make use of multichannel integration to get the most out of your direct mail.
Test premium packages tied to the mission
Premiums still typically work especially well in acquisition, but it's vital to tie the premium into the mission, Sena says. If the premium seemingly has nothing to do with the work your organization does, it may be viewed as excessive and wasteful — which in turn could give donors the impression that your organization does not use its funds wisely.