Weather Is Fine ... Wish You Would Give
Nonprofit organizations face numerous challenges in today’s competitive environment, including limited operating budgets, particularly for marketing, and a flood of organizations vying for the public’s charitable dollars. Donors are extremely selective with their contributions and might only donate to one or two organizations annually that speak to their personal sentiments, interests and demographic.
Therefore, nonprofits can benefit from taking proactive measures to analyze the psychologies of their financial contributors and leverage this information to develop highly targeted marketing campaigns.
The motivations of these charitable adults can be related to many things, such as their personalities, sociodynamics, personal experiences and life stages. Consequently, nonprofits must utilize the proper fundraising techniques in order to communicate their key messages to these varied audiences.
It’s no secret that one of the most effective distribution methods for nonprofit organizations has been direct mail. According to the Direct Marketing Association, 53 percent of nonprofits use direct mail for fundraising, and that number is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years by 7.5 percent from 2005 to 2009 (Source: DMA Trends & Benchmarks in Business to Business Direct Marketing, 2006).
But not all direct mail is created equal. To get the most out of this proven fundraising medium, nonprofits must filter through numerous options to choose the most appropriate vehicle. Industry experts such as the DMA report that postcards have the highest read rate among all types of direct mail (Source: 2005 DMA Statistical Fact Book).
Postcards offer an immediate connection with intended audiences by placing messages directly in the hands of individuals rather than requiring letters and e-mails to be opened and then read. Furthermore, postcards can immediately showcase vivid imagery that triggers an emotional reaction, which is more likely to garner an active response.
Consider this scenario: A potential contributor is presented with a story about a malnourished child in a Third World country. The letter goes on for two pages highlighting the physical and emotional anguish of relentless hunger. As poignant as the story may seem, the reader is less likely to read the full account of suffering in the form of a letter. In contrast, a picture of a starving toddler in an underdeveloped country with concise but powerful text is more captivating and a significantly stronger call to action. Typically, written information presented in black and white alone pales in comparison to a similar message conveyed with full-color picture postcards.
The next step
Nonprofits can make the most of each and every marketing dollar by personalizing postcards based on the motivations, personalities, interests and characteristics of their potential donors. This will help nonprofits target the right audience in a way to which it is most likely to respond.
According to a recent study, 40 percent or more of direct mail’s success is based on getting the mail piece (whether letter, postcard or other media) into the hands of those potential donors that are most likely to financially support an organization. Nonprofits can take direct-mail fundraising to a whole new level by utilizing direct marketing’s latest cutting-edge technology — Variable Data Printing.
VDP allows nonprofit fundraisers to send postcards that are relevant to the individual recipient by personalizing images and messages based on demographic, psychographic or transactional information. As an example, parents being shown images of young children in need might be called to support a children’s charity, or adult children seeing images of elderly persons and their caretakers might want to help a cause that provides elder care because they envision their own parents in a similar situation in the near future.
Research proves that the more a nonprofit customizes direct mail to its recipient, the higher the response rate. Within a single print run, a nonprofit maximizing VDP services to acquire funds for breast cancer can create relevant mail pieces to grab the attention of different generations and types of women by designing imagery and content that is relevant to each prospect group. For instance, one postcard targeting a female surfer in her 20s might picture a cancer survivor in the same age group with her girlfriends, all of whom are wearing her favorite color, green, and running on the beach. Another mail piece might feature a woman with her husband and two children standing in front a church; this would be ideal if the recipient is a family-oriented female in her 40s with strong religious beliefs.
It’s been proven that response rates for direct mailings utilizing VDP are four to six times higher than direct mailings not utilizing this technology. However, the level of personalization available through VDP is only as effective as the information collected in the organization’s databases.
In order to properly personalize postcards based on multiple factors, it’s essential to have mailing lists that are “clean” with complete and accurate information, as well as additional fields that can be used to drive variable elements. This allows recipients to cut through the clutter of their day-to-day mail and receive the messages that truly speak to their needs and interests.
More for the money
Aside from the ability to instantly connect with consumers and convey messages, another noteworthy value of postcards is their cost effectiveness. With the upcoming postage increases, nonprofits need a cost-effective way to reach potential donors. The postage rates for postcards are significantly lower than regular mail and, when sent in bulk, the savings is invaluable for nonprofits with limited marketing budgets.
Furthermore, nonprofits can get the most for their marketing dollars by partnering with a one-stop shop for their direct-mail needs, ensuring solution providers have advanced list services encompassing millions of households, in-house mailing services and Web-fed printers to support VDP.
The right direct-mail service provider can help put together strong offers, collate lists of targeted prospective donors, consult on ways to reduce postage costs and ensure the delivery of high-quality postcards that stand out. This translates to maximum responses and valuable dollars for an organization.
Keith Goodman is vice president, corporate solutions, at Modern Postcard, a Carlsbad, Calif.-based provider of direct mail advertising solutions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.