Looking Back at 2013's Last Week of Fundraising, Part 2
I've received a variation of this mailing at year-end several other times, so I suspect it works. What appealed to me was that it felt seasonal without having to be timed to be in-home in a very narrow window. If I had gotten it anytime from mid-December through early January, it would have felt in-season, and the calendars wouldn't feel inappropriate. Bottom line: The mailing stood out in a season when "standing out" matters. For a well-chosen target, it very well may break through and get attention — and responses from people who appreciate premiums.
A third mailing was from a nonprofit to which I had donated a gift-in-kind five or six years ago. The letter had a Christmas-related teaser, and the letter was very focused on that just-passed day. The takeaway here is to allow plenty of time for letters with Christmas messages to arrive pre-Christmas (substitute any other holiday that matters to your constituents). Otherwise, you risk having it arrive late, and thus it will feel even less worthy of a glance.
Two additional mailings were from nonprofits I support (but not the one that has averaged one mailing every 10 days for the last five years; I felt forgotten!). Both were timely, but in different ways. One referenced a recent disaster on the carrier (it was from an international relief agency), and the other referenced my 2014 member card. The first risked being overlooked, especially since the addressed side of the envelope was plain white with the messaging and photo on the reverse. The second again was chock-full of premiums to entice the right target to open it and claim the free gifts.
If your organization is not premium-focused, the week between Christmas and New Year's (or even into January, when donors may be fatigued in general, not just with appeals), my observation is that you'll need to work harder to capture attention. A "business as usual" mailing risks being set aside (perhaps permanently) or just overlooked by marginally committed, holiday-weary supporters.
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.