One Premium ‘Don’t’
The book “Open Immediately! Straight Talk on Direct Mail Fundraising: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why,” by Stephen Hitchcock, president of Mal Warwick Associates, features 81 chapters that look at nearly every facet of direct-mail fundraising, from acquiring and renewing donors to writing effective letters to the art of the ask.
The second chapter of the book — titled “Hairsplitting Traps to Avoid” — discusses the balance nonprofit mailers have to strike between nitpicking for quality and sticking with their mailing schedule.
“If you’re spending all your time trying to make each mailing perfect, you won’t be able to get out all your mailings,” Hitchcock writes.
It’s also necessary to balance the cost of mailings. Different paper stocks, personalization and graphics can send costs through the roof and, as Hitchcock notes, “It’s unlikely that your more expensive mailing will produce enough income to offset the extra cost or generate enough additional returns to keep your membership or donor database growing.”
Hitchcock lists 10 things organizations can do to avoid hairsplitting traps. No. 4 relates directly to premiums: Don’t offer premiums for acquiring new members.
Why? A few reasons: “The purpose of direct-mail fundraising is to provide a convenient way for enlightened and generous individuals to support causes and endeavors they believe in. In some instances, offering a premium lowers the response rate. Ill will often is created, as well, since many organizations have a dickens of a time sending out premiums in a timely manner,” Hitchcock writes.
“Open Immediately! Straight Talk on Direct Mail Fundraising: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why,” (Emerson & Church, 2004) can be purchased online at http://www.contributionsmagazine.com/books/openimmediately.html.