Direct Mail is a type of Direct Response Marketing. For non-profits, it is not only a key fundraising technique, it is also essential to raise awareness about your organzation. When Development Directors consider non-profit fundraising ideas to grow their database and organization, they must consider direct mail. Read more...
“Time and time again nonprofits make the mistake of not bothering to thank someone for a gift...” I have been in the Direct Response business for over 40 years and have reviewed many clients thank you direct mail programs. More than I can recall I have discovered that either they did not have a “Thank You” program at all (especially for small gifts) or they had a very generic, impersonal Thank You. These “thank you’s” either failed to mention the program that the donor was supporting or even forgot to mention the donor’s name. Sending a prompt and personal “Thank You” letter for every donation is essential in non-profit direct mail fundraising and donor conversion. In fact, one can say it is almost required by law. “IRS regulations require that before a donor claims a tax deduction for a charitable contribution, the donor must have a bank record or a written communication from the charitable nonprofit documenting the contribution.” This requirement can be fulfilled, and should, by sending the donor a direct mail thank you letter. Key Characteristics of a Thank You Letter Here are some of the key characteristics for any thank you letter: Personalization. Donation Amount. Donation Date. Mention of what they gave to. An additional Ask. The first 4 are basic: All your donation thank you letters should be sent promptly after the donation is received (within a week or so). It should include the donor's name and the amount given. It should also mention the date the gift was received and what they sent their money for and how it is going to be used. These are absolute basics of any direct mail fundraising program. So rather then, "Thank you for your support of organization XYZ," a donation thank you letter should read, "Thank you John for your gift of $50 received on X Date towards a new roof for our Orphanage.” Another Ask in Donation Thank You Letters No surprises there, but what is often forgotten is another ask. This may seem greedy but I can assure you it’s not. The most likely time for someone to give a second gift is soon after they have given a first gift. Getting a second gift is essential in turning that first-time donor into a consistent supporter of your organization. And “if you want a donor to make a second gift to your non-profit, you have to ask.” There is no better time to ask than after receiving a gift. We often include ours in the P.S. of the “Thank You” letter. (Remember, everybody always reads the P.S.) The P.S. might say something like, "If this is a good time for you to consider another gift to our XYZ organization, please complete the reply coupon below to send in your donation of $50." (Here you should mention the amount of their most recent gift.) We have found, without exception, that for every client for whom we've deployed a “Thank You” program like this, it has brought in more money than it cost. Your “Thank You” program in the past may have been a cost item on your budget - it costs more than it brought in. But with this program, you transform the “Thank You” program into a positive net income generator, where the donations coming in exceed the cost of doing the thank you mailings, even when you've upgraded the quality of those mailings. We have found that a ”Thank You” program that effectively, professionally and skillfully expresses gratitude to the donor for the specific appeal that they contributed to, and asks if it's a good time for another gift is very appealing to the donor. They don't see a request for a second donation as greedy, rather they see it as an opportunity to give to a program and organization they obviously favor. How can a thank you letter help you create multi-chanell donors? In this day and age most non-profits get new donors who give their first gift online. Many have automatic thank you emails set up to acknowledge that gift. Add in a direct mail thank you letter which begins to start a conversation with a donor offline. This new donor may continue to contribute soley online but more likely than not some of these new donors will respond via direct mail. Some may continue to donate online but still appreciate the direct mail and it may in fact spur them to ake those online donations. So in addition tot hat automated email I reccomend you also send a direct mail thank you letter to online donors.  To learn more about running a Direct Mail Program, click on the icon below and receive our free, downloadable e-book – Keys to a Successful Direct Mail Program:  
  With the ease and widespread acceptance of online fundraising many people speculate that direct mail is a dying fundraising channel. However, “direct mail is over seven times more effective than all digital channels combined, according to the Direct Marketing Association Response Rate Report 2015.”  In our Case Study, Growing a Donor Database, available here, we examine the effectiveness of a direct mail program for a US-based non-profit that provides aid and services overseas. Before we began to work with the charity, they had no direct mail program, and their database of donors had been growing slowly and barely outpacing attrition.   As a part of the program, we developed and mailed 2 different prospect (new donor acquisition) packages to 10 donor lists of third party non-profits. We selected those non-profits whose mission gave us some reason to believe their donors might also consider making a donation to our client. We split all the lists in half and mailed each half one of the two separate packages. This allowed us to determine which lists worked and which of the two packages worked best.  After the initial mailing was successful, we mailed two more rollouts of the more successful package. In addition to these prospect mailings, LDMI began developing and mailing monthly direct mail to the house file consisting of the newly acquired donors and the charity’s existing donors. The results were astounding.  Despite the fact that Prospect mailings tend to lose money, every round of Prospect mail profited.  The Prospect mailings brought in over 3,000 new donors, resulting in a 297% increase in the total number of donors.   To read more, please click here for the full Case Study, Growing a Donor Database.
  In Non-Profit Direct Response, copywriting is king. This is not the case for typical, mainstream advertising, where design is premium. Beautiful, full-color, high-gloss, very expensive ads are the bread and butter of the mainstream advertising agency. Anyone who reads the New York Times notices the huge number of pages, content and ads, that are full color, with beautiful images, and type so small it's nearly impossible to read. Clearly, in that environment, design rules over copy. And copy is relegated to the bottom right-hand corner with grey type against a black background that no one pays attention to. Direct response: Copywriting is King In Direct Mail, especially for non-profits, copy is the king. The words rule. This could be in a donation request letter, or a newsletter, or even a “Thank You” letter. “Both copy and graphics must be developed in parallel to ensure that the user experience is positive and doesn't fail to reach its target,” but design must support the copy, not dominate it, not distract from it. In direct response, it is the copywriting that drives the story and allows you to make an emotional connection with the recipent. “In the words of Jeffrey Zeldman, 'design in the absence of content is not design; it¹s decoration'. And he couldn't be more right!” In Direct Mail, sometimes beautiful design can actually hurt you, especially in a donation request letter. Think of someone who is in the perfect demographic for a non-profit donor. They receive an envelope that is full color, front and back. When they open the letter, they find a brief letter in hard to read type over top of an eleaborate image with a really nice picture of the signer and a very elaborate color logo on the letterhead. There is also a brochure in full color which, when they unfold it, discover is about the size of a poster. There may be another glossy insert and a reply form in full color. Anyone can see this is all very expensive. This type of mailing (obviously dominated by design) will fail for most non-profits, compared to a letter that is faithfully designed in such a way to encourage the recipient to read the copy. Design Supports Copy Pictures are great in fundraising. If you're raising funds to support an orphanage in Africa, a picture of some of those orphans will certainly help, but the words are the persuasive vehicle. The copy, whether it is a donation request letter or intended to get people to sign a petition, allows you to make a strong case for supporting the orphans. You are not wasting resources on fancy designs or expensive mailings. The recipient gets the impression that their donation will go directly to those orphans you just discussed. So if you want to help these orphans, you need the words to do that. And whether I've convinced you of that or not, test it sometime. Test a design-heavy, full-color, expensive looking package versus a simple, more personal donation request letter. A lot of the donors, whether or not they articulate it , are going to say, "Wow, they spent a lot of money on this mailing. Why are they asking me to send them money when they're already spending all this money on this very expensive piece of mail they sent me?" In a donation request letter good copy will inspire the recipient to give. If written well they will get a sense of how these orphans feel, why they need your help and what your non-profit will do to help with the donors money. Design should only support that message. In direct response copywriting, it is the copy that delivers. To learn more about Direct Response, check out our new, free, downloadable ebook – Keys to a Successful Direct Mail Campaign:  
At some point, all non-profit organizations ask how to get donations to continue funding their important work. Despite its long running proven track record, Direct Mail programs incite a sense of fear for many non-profits. (Yes, direct mail is still king.) They think receiving a fundraising letter is something their donors will find annoying and will ultimately result in the donor distancing themselves from the organization. But this is not the case..Direct Mail is the best, most efficient way for non-profits to raise funds for their organization and keep their donors up-to-date on their important work. Read more...

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