Direct mail is still a powerful tool for fundraising. Even though a high percentage of giving is done online, mail still has qualities that set it apart. Receiving a physical message is more personal, shows an invested effort, and can capture the attention of your donors for longer than an email or social media appeal. Even Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign raised over $200 million through direct mail. Printed fundraising letters and mailers are more effective than online for certain audiences including large-dollar donors and older donors.
You’ve Got Options
Fundraising mailers can take MANY different forms. Take advantage of the opportunity to experiment with what’s possible to create a unique experience for your audience and deliver your message through visuals, color, physical interaction and more. Here’s some of what’s possible for fundraising direct mail.
“Classic” Fundraising Letters
Almost everyone has received a traditional fundraising letter before. It’s a tried-and-true method for sending out donation mailings, and it does work. These usually consist of:
- An outside envelope
- A folded letter inside, usually 1-2 pages
- Donation form
- Return envelope
Sounds pretty boring, right? It doesn’t have to be. Having so many physical pieces creates more opportunities for message reinforcement. Print these two-color (or more) and use your highlight color to deliver a teaser message on the outside of the envelope to get more opens. After all, nobody will give who throws your letter away immediately. Use color headlines and subheads in your letter. Include graphs, charts or a call-out box to emphasize what the donor’s funds will be used for, or why giving right now is so important. Take advantage of the donation card itself to deliver additional messages.
- A color (2 color is fine and cuts costs) outer mailer on card stock
- Donation form OR a perforated card that tears off of the outer mailer
- Return envelope
The best part about self-mailers is they provide a greater opportunity for marketing on the outside of the piece. It’s easier to incorporate graphics, Large headlines, images and more to attract your donors’ attention. Some donors are very sensitive to paper waste, and this also cuts that down. On the negative side, self-mailers can be more difficult to open than a classic letter. The piece shown above required three perforated tabs to be added (bottom, left and right sides) before mailing.
Sometimes it works to eschew the donation card and return envelope entirely, forget folding and send a simple postcard instead. This saves printing, folding and mail preparation costs, but can lower your response rates.This method works best for fundraising events, especially those with a bigger draw than just “come give us money” – music, food, and speakers/presenters can entice attendance. With a fundraising postcard mailer there are several ways to direct your donors to give. Use an RSVP phone number, include a website URL (a simple one!), or simply ask them to bring their donation in person when they come to your event.
Don’t Forget About Mail
As in your voter contact programs or donor communications, direct mail still works and it can be especially powerful for fundraising.
One last note: TEST your fundraising letters with a few volunteers in your target audience to get their feedback. Would they read your letter at all? Does the whole package inspire them to take action? I have seen so many of these over the years that are too long, difficult to read (watch your type sizes and text density!) or just lacking in general.
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