Mailing Smarter in Unsure Economic Times
Most Americans are unsure about what the recent tax bill signed by President Donald Trump will mean to the average nonprofit donor. Most nonprofits should again turn to their databases and list brokers to set their target for an uneven or even minimal growth prospect for the new year. Mailing smarter should be your 2018 goal.
Some nonprofit organizations have eliminated hard copy direct mail entirely. Why? Their donor base is younger, more affluent, less apt to trust the value of hard copy mail, which cuts down valuable trees and is the cause of all global warming problems of the world. OK, not as extreme as that might seem, but many nonprofits have culled out their older, more reliable donors from their lists and focused on email marketing to target a whole new dimension of younger people exclusively. Some nonprofits are relying on monthly email newsletters to keep their donors informed as to what specific person or groups their nonprofit has helped all due to email database clientele.
Some other nonprofits do cull out their lapsed or expired donors entirely to streamline their existing donor pool better and to keep active, current and relevant to these new donors. What are your plans for 2018? Have your board of directors offered any clues or suggestions to trash your hard copy direct mail marketing plans entirely?
My mailbox still received many hard copy direct-mail marketing offers from the usual suspects: Save the Children, Amnesty International and others. That is not to say that I was not also a recipient of email solicitations from The Trust for Public Lands, Halo Trust and Heifer International.
To the normal donor of any age group, the decision to give is still based upon one’s personal beliefs, moral conscience, which nonprofits will best use your dollars wisely and usefully to its maximum benefit. Using a simple A-6 invitation envelope with a compelling outer envelope image beckoned me to investigate further this “invitations to contribute” mailing from a HIV/AIDS organization. How could I say no? Would it have been more appealing to me via email to contribute to the same organization? No. I prefer direct mail and since I have never been approached by this organization before, I could see that they had the vision to stick to their tried and true hard copy invitation to invite me to help cure this horrible disease via hard copy direct mail.
Adding my name to their lists strengthened their resolve to retain the values of personal communications that seem distracted and rudderless in an email format. How can one not give to an organization who helps those less fortunate that have this terrible disease? The organization looked outside their comfort zone of “usual donors,” and with the help of their list broker, found a donor like myself who would respond to a “simple invitation to contribute letter.” A very simple and effective format of mailing less to a more diverse donor that is responsive and offering a simple message got me on the hook, line and donation. Mailing smarter is the real goal for any nonprofit in any unsure economic crystal ball forecast. It should also be the goal of the donor to seek out those nonprofits that best match their own beliefs, hopes and vision for a better world.
Now is the time for nonprofits to try something unique and something different to a new audience, and now is the time to mail less, get more donations and mail smarter.
James E. Sullivan is the project director of Optic Nerve Digital Direct Marketing. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.