Online giving for nonprofits is growing, but remember, it still makes up only a small portion of total giving. Traditional fundraising — direct mail, events, major gifts — still generates about 90% of total giving. It's important to allocate the appropriate percentage of resources toward traditional channels rather than focusing exclusively on online fundraising, which seems cheap and easy. Online fundraising is important, and should be integrated with your direct mail program, but it should not be overemphasized in light of its contribution to total giving. Check out Mart Pitam's blog "The Danger of Seeking 100% Online Giving" for more information.
Is your nonprofit missing out on potential donations because you aren’t reaching your donors? Or even worse, is your organization spending money on direct mail packages that never even reach your donors? If the answer to these questions isn’t a confident, “No,” then your nonprofit might be leaving money on the table. Your nonprofit might have the best creative in the world, but it doesn’t matter if your packages aren’t reaching donor inboxes. That’s why the upkeep of your donor database is a critical aspect of your nonprofit’s direct mail program. A healthy donor database provides a detailed view of all your donors and smooths the way for improved analytics. Whether you want to compile a comprehensive view of donor value, create upsell programs or develop complex list models, having clean data will better support these efforts and improve the performance of your marketing ventures. Up-to-date contact information and response data also allows you to improve segmentation of your donors based on their unique interests and partialities. This leads to better market targeting and tailored-made content and offers. This will transition to an overall better donor experience, and subsequently, promote better marketing results for your company. So, now that we know why clean data is so important, the next step is to learn about how to clean up your data! National Change of Address (NCOA) Before mailing your house or prospect appeals, you need to run your list against the NCOA database. This is an important step to ensure you are going to reach the intended donor in a timely manner. The NCOA database contains the “change of address” forms submitted to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). When people move, they don’t always fill out “address forwarding” forms with USPS. And even if they do, it could take another week before your mail is forwarded to the right address. Plus, the USPS requires NCOA updates within 95 days to qualify for bulk mailing rates. Mailing at bulk rates is essential to almost all marketing campaigns, especially smaller nonprofits that have limited direct mail budgets. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 11.2% Americans moved in 2016. That percentage may seem insignificant, but let’s say you send out a direct mail campaign to 10,000 people and 11.2% have moved. That’s roughly 1,120 donors you missed. If each of those donors were to give an average of $25, you would have lost a total of $28,000. Imagine how those funds, or even a fraction of those funds, could have helped with your cause! With everything people have to deal with when moving, contacting charities to update their personal info is likely not a top concern. This intensifies the importance of having the most up-to-date contact information, not only for your mailings, but stored in your database as well — readily obtainable for future communications. You cannot retain donors if you cannot reach them! Bottom line: Running the NCOA to ensure the hygiene of your database or list rentals is a solid investment and vital to ensuring the blood, sweat and tears put into your nonprofit’s direct mail efforts aren’t in vain. Contact Lawrence Direct Marketing today to start working together on building a better donor database and to start reaching clients with more effective creative to increase your net income.
The Lawrence Direct Marketing, Inc. team will be on location next week, August 3-4, at the 12th Annual Bridge to Integrated Marketing & Fundraising Conference. You can meet the LDMI team at the Solutions Showcase exhibit hall, Booth 124. The exhibit hall is open from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on August 3 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on August 4. The Bridge Conference brings together direct marketing and fundraising experts to discuss the latest strategies, techniques and innovations in direct response marketing and fundraising. The conference is produced by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Washington, DC Metro Area Chapter (AFP DC) and the Direct Marketing Association of Washington (DMAW). Lawrence Direct Marketing is a member of DMAW. Bridge 2017 will take place at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland (201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, MD). More information about the conference is available at We hope to see you there!
When it comes to having their direct mail materials printed and shipped, every nonprofit is looking for vendors who can provide the highest quality at the lowest price, and can produce the package on schedule. But finding those vendors can be extremely difficult if you don’t know the ins and outs of direct mail production. Read more...

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