Direct mail fundraising for nonprofits is tricky. Direct mail has never been easy, but it’s a real challenge today. But problems can be overcome. You can find blogs from me spanning a decade about the difficulties with the Post Office, yet direct mail is a powerful fundraising tool for our clients and many nonprofits. You can do it but you have to know what you’re doing.
If you want to increase the power of your direct mail, avoid these 3 direct mail pitfalls.
- Forgetting the supremacy of “The Offer” will kill your direct mail fundraising. The Offer or The Ask is your focus in your letter. What are you asking the reader to do? Remember, they’re not necessarily a donor yet even if they were donors in the past. They’re just scanners and readers until they give to this letter. Every part of the letter (envelope, salutation, signature, response device…everything) must lead to the offer. And the offer must be for only one thing. You certainly can give the reader suggested gift amounts for the single offer. But it all has to be for one thing: meals, nights of shelter, days of recovery programs, a semester of tutoring, a day of treatment, rescuing one child…one focus.
- Focusing only on the creative will kill your direct mail fundraising. It’s a sad mistake to focus so much on getting the words and design right while ignoring who will receive the mailing. Great creative going to the wrong people kills results. Or, not sending your letter to enough of the right people will kill your results. It really is better to have less than perfect creative going to enough of the right people. Don’t focus on words and photos and forget your audience.
- Failing to make it easy for the donor to give will kill your direct mail fundraising. If the reader is inclined to give, then you must make it easy for them. The reply form or response device should be pre-printed with their name and address. Don’t make them write any more than necessary. Don’t make them search for an envelope to send in their gift. Let them write the check, mark their gift amount, and place that in the reply envelope. Make it easy. Oh, and you need to give them an online option to give. Yes. In direct mail, give them an online opportunity. And sell it. Donors love to read direct mail appeals and give online in response. They don’t care that it makes it difficult for you to track results. And you shouldn’t either.
These 3 mistakes will kill your direct mail fundraising.
But, if you focus on getting your robust and clear offer to the right donors with an easy way for them to respond, you will love the results. I promise.
You can always reach me at sthomas AT oneicity DOT com. I’d love to hear what you think.
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