Pulse: Raising Money by Mail
Despite our use of the Internet for everything from doing research to ordering pizza, direct mail is still the most effective way for nonprofits to raise funds. In their new book, "7 Essential Steps to Raising Money by Mail," Sandra Sims, founder and president of nonprofit resource firm Step by Step Fundraising, and Sandy Rees, a nonprofit fundraising coach, author, speaker and trainer, map out seven steps to effective direct-mail strategies.
Broken into three parts, this 119-page guide begins with the seven essential steps, followed by 321 sentence starters to get the creative juices flowing and 29 sample fundraising letters that real organizations have actually raised funds with.
Recently, FundRaising Success spoke with Rees and Sims about the importance of a strong direct-mail program for acquiring and retaining donors.
FundRaising Success: What made you tackle this topic now?
Sandra Sims: We've both heard from so many nonprofit leaders that are discouraged because they've experienced a dip in donations. If they have never done a direct-mail appeal before, or had less than impressive results, this could hurt the organization's bottom line and discourage them further. We want to make sure nonprofits have the practical resources they need to make a donation request by mail. Often it's the little things that can make a big impact in the responses received — personalized addressing, a strong ask statement and a P.S., for example.
Sandy Rees: Direct mail has always been my absolute favorite technique for fundraising. From the work that I've done with a lot of small nonprofits, I find that they really want very simple, "step one: do this, step two: do that" kind of information.
SS: Now is the perfect time to plan a well-thought-out direct-mail appeal. The community still needs to hear about the great work that nonprofits are doing. Stories of changed lives because of the work nonprofits are doing are so heartwarming. Even further, sharing tales about the dedication of volunteers and the contributions of donors is a way to honor them as an integral part of the work. Communicating via the mail — including newsletters, personal notes and donation requests — gives nonprofits that chance to tell the stories that can inspire people.