Pssst … Don’t Tell the Big Guys
How you can do it:
• For direct mail, look for gang-run opportunities. Large mailers constantly are producing proven, effective mail pieces and getting economies of scale that yield low per-piece costs. Enlist your agency to design a mail piece that can be produced with one of these larger production runs, and you’ll likely get an upscale mail piece at a low price. (There might be plate and/or set-up charges, but not enough to offset your savings).
• Gang runs don’t just apply to mail production. List orders can be grouped as well. For some nonprofits (especially regional fundraisers), obtaining acquisition lists is a major challenge. Names are sparse and costs are high. These issues can be averted by being included with a larger organization’s list order. Your agency or list broker can work with you to make sure you’re getting lists that will work, not just lists that someone else is mailing.
• Postage is an area that easily can be overlooked as a source for saving money. At the very least, nonprofits should use the Nonprofit Standard mail rate for the vast majority of mailings — major donors getting a First Class stamp can be an exception.
However, there are ways to reduce the cost of postage further. Make sure your mailings are pre-sorted with current software. Many mail vendors will enlist a co-mingling service. Co-mingling involves combining and sorting multiple mailings to achieve even deeper postage discounts using the leverage of hundreds of thousands (even millions) of mail pieces.
• Save money on materials. Stick with two colors on print components. Consider printing for more than one mailing at a time. Slit and nest your letter and reply slip instead of matching. Get economies of scale or contract pricing.
At the risk of spoiling Oprah’s favorite book, “The Secret” suggests that to obtain anything in life, all it takes is visualizing exactly what you want. I’m not suggesting that fundraising like the larger organizations is a matter of visualizing; however, changing your mind-set is part of the process.