Special Report: Fundraising 101 Direct Mail
I almost always use a P.S. that restates the offer, sometimes adding a deadline to increase urgency.
6. Test everything
Be as aggressive as your budget will allow. Test different lists, formats, offers, copy and design. Test the timing of appeals — and test reminders to key appeals in successful time periods.
You might want to consider testing a more aggressive copy approach in response to the economy. I believe it’s acceptable to mention the hardships you face due to the economy as long as you tie it back to your mission. For example, if you are a food bank and you have X percent more people coming through your doors due to job losses, that’s a relevant fact to which donors will relate. Emergency appeals do tend to work. You just can’t have an emergency every month.
You also can test postage treatments on both your outgoing envelope and reply envelope. Many find that using multiple stamps on a reply envelope pays off at a certain donor level.
7. Cultivate your donors
Make sure you’re thanking donors on a timely basis. It’s common courtesy, and people do take notice. You can use your acknowledgement program to encourage corporate matching gifts, memorial/tribute gifts and planned-giving opportunities, as well.
Many effective direct-mail programs use newsletters to educate and inform donors. Even an 11-inch-by-17-inch, four-panel format gives you enough space to delve deeper into your mission and show the donor
specifically what her gift is helping you achieve.
Putting your newsletter into an envelope with a cover letter that includes a direct ask — as well as a separate reply slip and reply envelope — can increase your gross income tenfold over a self-mailer format.
For major donors, you also might want to include some nonsolicitation touchpoints in the mail mix. Some organizations send DVDs to highlight their missions at certain donor levels. Or you might invite your majors to special events. Even if they don’t attend, extending the invitation makes a positive impression and shows them you’re not always just asking for gifts.