'Old-Fashioned' Direct-Mail Technique Is New Fundraising Trend
I've read recent industry editorials that indicate direct mail is "breathing its last breath." Most of the buzz is focused on social media, online marketing and mobile marketing.
But fundraising direct mail is very much alive and well! The core formula has never changed. The success formula is 40 percent data; 40 percent offer/ask; and 20 percent creative, timing, etc. The proper offer and/or ask mailed to the right person at the right time produces a very effective ROI.
Currently, a new trend in fundraising direct mail is an old-fashioned hand-addressed envelope and handwritten P.S.
When is the last time you received a genuine handwritten envelope with a live stamp? More than likely you immediately opened it. You see a personalized letter, and your eyes shift to the bottom, where you see a handwritten P.S. You are hooked!
Your first response might be that handwritten communication is expensive. Never forget that a mail package is expensive only if it doesn't work. Obviously, the handwritten package should be mailed to the proper audience with the appropriate offer.
Typically, the handwritten package is used in an offer where there is a high average order. In a nonprofit setting, it works best for midlevel to major donors or for renewing lapsed donors.
Allegiant Direct's client, Meharry Medical College, has a "Circle of Friends," which includes donors who have given at least $1,000. We have historically mailed an expensive invitational-size vellum envelope with a personalized letter and personalized reply form. The package did well with a cost per dollar raised of 36 cents.
However, in our most recent mailing, we used a handwritten outer envelope and a handwritten P.S. inside the invitation card with a personalized reply device and BRE. Compared to the previous mailing, our client experienced an 18 percent lift in response, 11 percent increase in cost and 83 percent increase in net income. The cost per dollar raised was 26 cents.
The best direct-marketing fundraising plan is a multichannel approach that includes constant testing in all channels. However, in your fundraising direct-mail channel, do not forget the "magical results" of handwritten communication. It spans across generational preferences and is the ultimate one-to-one communication tool.