DOROT's Objective: Think Like the Donor
For nonprofit mailers, knowing what your donors want is paramount. That’s why DOROT, a New York City-based charity providing Kosher meals to homebound Jewish elders in the tri-state area, tested, tested and tested some more to pinpoint how best to attract new contributors.
Its current No. 10 control package is simple in design and approach, and contains just three elements: a four-page letter, donor form and BRE. For all the flashy, four-color brochures and glossy inserts available, it often is the plain, white printed letter and envelope that carry the most impact — and cost the least — in the mail stream.
“About five years ago, DOROT’s acquisition efforts started to fall off, in part because they are a regional mailer,” says Amy Sukol, creator of this package and senior account executive for Lautman and Co., a consulting firm that specializes in member and donor development for nonprofit organizations. “We pretty much mail exclusively to the Jewish market [in New York], and you can only mail the same package for so many years to the same donors before you start to see a decline.”
Sukol’s first order of business was to revise the letter to focus primarily on DOROT’s defining organizational program: feeding the Jewish elderly. The previous control letter discussed myriad programs, including DOROT’s “University Without Walls” initiative, which matches college-aged volunteers with homebound elders for company and conversation. But according to Sukol, active donors don’t consider the program to be as critical as feeding people.
The second challenge for Sukol was to craft a letter that talked about the people who were helped by DOROT, rather than continuing to present a little old lady’s plea for help.
“I think the old control letter was a good letter, but it was getting tired,” Sukol says. “We went from, ‘Here’s a woman in a desperate situation [that] DOROT can help’ to ‘Here’s how DOROT helped me.’ I think that’s made a huge difference.”