2. Just once doesn't work as well
With e-mail open rates typically hovering below 20 percent, weaving an arc of coordinated messages around a theme can dramatically improve results. NMFA's campaign included a series of five e-mails: one inviting recipients to send photos to be placed on a "wall of honor" for kids with deployed parents, three asks and one thank-you note. The organization also mailed cards with a moving story written by a child about his soldier dad. Pairing online/offline channels with moving messages and activities people can engage in without having to donate makes it harder to ignore and more engaging.
3. If it looks like junk mail, it probably is
Direct-mail donors are changing. They're younger, more skeptical and receiving much more "junk mail" than ever before. A 4-inch-by-6-inch direct-mail piece that looked more like a personal notecard raised $87,000 more than 2009's more traditional letter for the NMFA.
4. People aren't ATM machines
NMFA began its campaign on Veterans Day with a moving story and an invitation to take an action beyond just making a gift. People were asked to share photos of themselves holding signs that said they stand behind military kids. As a result, 317 photos were uploaded, with more than 600 people featured in them. It was inspirational. Entire classrooms, cheerleading squads, 4-H Clubs, even former WWE wrestling champ Bill Goldberg shared photos and messages of support. By giving people alternative ways to take action, you send the message that you care and want them to be involved even if they don't write a check. FS
Sarah Durham is founder and principal at Big Duck. Reach her via e-mail at email@example.com or via Twitter at @BigDuckSarah.
Sarah Durham is president of Big Duck, a New York City-based branding, marketing and fundraising firm for nonprofits. She serves on the boards of the National Brain Tumor Society and the New York Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).