Remember the old days, before Al Gore invented the internet? Direct Mail was king in the direct-response fundraising world. Then came the web and the predictions that it would dominate all other media, making books, magazines and newspapers obsolete. And, oh yes, direct mail was on its way out.
Well here we are in 2014 and the introduction of new media and technologies has had a significant impact on how we do business. And instead of being the replacement for direct mail, the Internet has become a powerful partner in many direct response fundraising programs.
Here are just a few ideas for your program that have proven valuable in today’s fundraising world and, I hope relevant to you.
1) Give your donors a choice on how to give. Instead of thinking in terms of converting direct-mail donors to web doners, or vice versa, let the donor decide how he or she wants to give. One way to do this is to add an online giving option to your direct mail letters and reply slips. Tell donors that they can give via the web by going to a unique URL address. Some donors will give online, some will choose to respond via direct mail, and some will become donors who give via both channels over time. Multi-channel donors might have a greater long-term value to your organization.
2) Personalize but don’t patronize. Most organizations have effectively employed personalization techniques to use the donor’s name, giving history, city and state within the text of a letter. But sometimes we end up hitting donors over the head with it. Donors are savvy enough to know that computers, not people, provide this personalization, so don’t overdo it.
Remember to do the things that truly make your mailing sound personal. Speak in a conversational me-to-you manner, avoid the institutional “we” and tell donors in specific terms what their gifts are helping you do.
3) Remember to remind. Yes, we’ve been doing them forever, but reminders still are a powerful way to leverage your most effective appeals. If you do an annual fund in January, send out an annual fund follow-up in February — within two to four weeks of the original appeal.
The follow-up mailing can employ a smaller, less expensive format than the prior mailing, and could generate up to 70 percent or 80 percent of the original.
4) Give donors a choice on what to give. Round out your donors’ giving options with special offers such as memorial/tribute gifts, planned giving and special events. Create a monthly sustainer offer for donors who give frequently, say two, three or more times per year.
Create mid-level and major-donor clubs for those who give single gifts that fit your pre-selected criteria — and invite donors who give slightly less to move up to those “giving club” levels and receive special recognition and other benefits.
For other ideas on how to make your fundraising programs more effective, give us a call at 800-829-7720 and we would be happy to discuss your specific needs.