Netting High-Dollar Donors
Netting High-Dollar Donors
Feb. 7, 2006
By Abny Santicola, associate editor, FundRaising Success
Not all direct mail is created equal. Sure, from organization to organization a lot of the inequality is due to budgets of different girth. But even within an organization, there can be a lot of variance among direct-mail campaigns.
In his book, "The Mercifully Brief Real World Guide to ... Raising $1,000 Gifts by Mail," Mal Warwick, founder and chairman of Berkeley, Calif.-based fundraising and marketing agency Mal Warwick & Associates, shares his tips for raising high-dollar gifts. Among Warwick's many points are the four key musts for organizations looking to net high-dollar gifts from direct mail.
1) Select your list carefully. Don't exclude donors who've only given gifts around $100 in the past or those who've given more than $1,000. Group these and donors of average amounts into one list.
2) Fine-tune messaging. Rather than building your messaging around an offer that hits on negative donor motivators like fear, guilt, greed, exclusivity and anger, Warwick writes to focus on positive emotions like hope, love, faith, duty and compassion.
An understanding of the complexity of this type of donor is necessary when shaping messaging, Warwick adds.
- They tend to be college-educated.
- They often are involved in their community.
- They have the cash to make gifts, so they're quite possibly professionals, executives, heirs or owners of small businesses.
- They're being pulled in many directions and lack leisure time.
And remember, most donors give because of a nonprofit's vision and mission, so be sure to include these elements in your messaging.
3) Create an appealing package. Donors of all types sort mail, putting a select few in the "yes" pile and junking the rest. The same is even more true of high-dollar donors. Therefore, the packaging of your mailing must stand out, Warwick writes. Forgo the usual trappings of direct mail such as teasers, ink-jet addressing and window envelopes. High-dollar mail, Warwick adds, must have an air of distinction. Elements such as personalization, high-quality paper stock, a reply envelope, oversized envelopes and First Class postage can help.
4) Follow up. Don't just send out high-dollar mailings once a year. Including these prospects or donors in standard annual renewal or traditional appeals is a mistake. In his book, Warwick writes, "Functionally, high-dollar mail needs to serve as a communications platform to upgrade the most promising candidates from your small-donor program to a level of giving that's high enough to warrant attention from major gifts staff and volunteers."
Create a fundraising track for these prospects that includes gift acknowledgments; cultivation, education and reporting; annual renewal efforts; and special appeals, Warwick adds.
Mal Warwick can be reached via http://www.malwarwick.com
("The Mercifully Brief Real World Guide to ... Raising $1000 Gifts by Mail," by Mal Warwick, Emerson & Church Publishers, 2005)