Your CEO, president, or chairman of your board of directors may have their own ideas about what it takes to be successful when it comes to direct mail fundraising. Some of those ideas may even make sense. Others though, could really hurt your direct mail efforts.
When it comes to coping with people who are well intentioned, but unschooled in fundraising, here are some words to live by: don’t change your appeals simply to please someone who says, What we’re doing right now isn’t working. Let’s try it my way.
Do “simple” better. Here’s how:
• Understanding what motivates your audience and speaking to their needs is the most critical element of the pre-planning process. Then you can think about explaining to donors why they should donate and why now.
• Where are you placing your ask in your appeal? If you have it buried in the middle of your letter, your donor or prospect may never see it.
• Make your ask boldly and repeat it at least three times, including the P.S. And, of course, make sure the ask amount is based on the donor’s giving history.
• An often overlooked aspect of direct mail fundraising is that matching gift challenges are very likely to increase response rates and total income.
• Most people love to receive a handwritten note. You might be surprised to hear that including a hand-written P.S. encourages increased giving. Try it, it works.
• When it comes to major donor appeals, using hand-written notes to make them more authentic will increase both response rate and ROI.
• If you’re using a generic thank you letter, stop doing that now. Make sure you write a tailored thank you for each of your appeals. Your donors will notice and respond accordingly. This is just one strong way for donors to truly feel appreciated for their support.
Here's a promise: If you stop treating your direct mail fundraising efforts as random appeals and think of them as a systematic way of communicating and converting prospects into donors and moving existing donors up the giving pyramid, you’ll be improving the overall performance of your fundraising efforts.