‘Common Logic’ Is Not Always Logical
Much of the so-called “common logic” of direct-mail fundraising that is still being handed down to new generations of fundraisers is bunk. In reality, illogical methods often win the day. Let me review just a few of the most common situations in which uncommon ideas succeed.
Avoiding tax day
One of the oldest myths in our business is that you should avoid sending solicitations around April 15. The logic seems reasonable … potential donors should be in a less generous mood after cutting a large check to Uncle Sam.
In reality, I have not seen a consistent, measurable downturn around tax time with any of the dozens of clients I have worked with over the past 22 years. In fact, several of my clients experience their highest appeal response rates during this time period.
I believe it’s possible that so many organizations have suppressed mailings around April 15, that it actually has become a great time to mail, because there is less competition for those who continue to send out solicitations.
Long letters versus short letters
Is it better to write long letters or short letters? This is one of the most common debates you’ll hear between direct marketers. Some will adamantly argue that long letters are best. Others will be equally vehement about the necessity of shorter letters. I have seen and heard of numerous tests involving longer versus shorter letters.
There are few other arguments in direct-mail fundraising that are as fruitless as this debate. This should not be an “either/or” deliberation. Sometimes short letters are best. At other times, longer letters are preferable. It just depends on the subject, the client and the moment.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing a prospect letter, an appeal to a lower-dollar donor or a solicitation to a major donor, the letter should be short or long depending on the individual need of the package.