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Helping Your Board Understand the Need for Direct Mail

Industry research continues to indicate that, when it comes to funding your mission, direct mail still is the most successful way to get donors to make a contribution.

This being the case, it’s on you, Mr. or Ms. Leader of your nonprofit, to make sure that your board of directors, CEOs, and CFOs really understand direct mail.

As we travel around the Midwest to meet with our valued clients or to speak at different venues, Sue and I are often very surprised that even those who work with direct mail on a regular basis don’t understand how and why it works. It shouldn’t be surprising then that direct mail can seem old fashioned and confusing to those who don’t use it regularly (like board members, CEOs, and CFOs).

To help you make the case to those who either don’t understand direct mail or are non-believers, I’d like to offer some tips on how to explain the importance of your program:

  1. How It Works – The “giving pyramid” is a standard way of getting those unfamiliar with direct mail to understand how it can help a nonprofit’s fundraising efforts. In other words, direct mail brings in long-term donors and cultivates them up the pyramid so they become major donors. In fact, planned-giving officers often report that the majority of planned-giving gifts come from donors who begin as direct mail donors with gifts in the range of $25.

  2. Past, Present & Future – Even in this age of e-mail, direct mail remains the foundation of a strong fundraising program. Generation Y, the youngest generation of donors, those who are most computer-savvy– actually is the fastest growing group of direct-mail readers.

Not convinced? Consider this: direct mail is even the preferred choice of e-mail donors. A study by McPherson Associates showed that of people who first contributed online, 70% renewed. But of that 70% who renewed, 80% renewed by mail.

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