A client of ours recently told us that he was looking around the room at the last board meeting his organization had when it hit him—the realization, that is, that this group of men and women, those serving on the board who have given of their time, talent, and treasure all were initially involved with “the cause” through direct mail.
The fact is that, very often, major donors become important members of your organization. They offer advice, hands-on support, and, hopefully, their contacts.
But one of the most common questions nonprofits struggle with is where they will find more major donors.
The answer is right there in plain sight—direct mail.
Now, what constitutes a major donor may vary a bit from one organization to the next, but let’s just say that you consider a major donor to be anyone who has given a gift of $1,000 or more to your cause.
We’ve done a bit of a study of the origins of first gifts from a cross section of our clients whose donors have made gifts of $1,000 or more. What we found was that nearly 50% of them made that initial gift as a result of a direct mail appeal.
We then did a little more outside research and found that “55% of one nonprofit’s $1,000 donors were acquired through direct mail.” (Analytical Ones) In another study, we found that one in four first-time gifts in the range of $1,000-$2,500 were gained through traditional direct mail and one in six first-time gifts of over $2,500 came from direct mail. (Analytical Ones)
Deeper meaning: if you take away direct mail, a significant chunk of future large donors goes away. Yes, consistently, direct mail has been able to convince people to donate large sums of money to nonprofit organizations for many years.
As Sue Rescigno, President at Rescigno’s says, “A well-crafted direct mail package is a communication that will give an interested recipient all the information needed to respond affirmatively to an appeal. It will tell them how the money will be used, allay any fears that the money isn’t going to be used as intended, and it will make it easier for donors to contribute.”
Once nonprofits understand and embrace the fact that people like to get direct mail. Especially today…especially after having been inundated all day with emails. It has to be mail that interests them, however..
An overwhelming number of non-profit donors are retirement age and older. These are people who like to receive direct mail. Also, these are very often people who have enough money to be able to send a non-profit $50 or $100 (or $1,000 or more)!
Do major donors just fall out of the sky and into your laps magically? No, they most assuredly don’t. Most of them, though, are sitting right there in their homes reading your direct mail—waiting to be tapped for a substantial gift.
So, if you’re looking for more major gift donors, as I’m sure you are, here are a few suggestions:
Create a dynamic direct mail program (Rescigno’s can help!)
Use direct mail as a tool to find more prospects (and more $1,000+ donors (Rescigno’s can help!)
Analyze your data and target donors for major gifts (Yes, Rescigno’s can help!)
Do you have any “ticks-of-the-trade that you’d like to share with us? Please do!