How to Reach More Donors, Save Time, and Boost ROI.
In the fundraising year, August means you’re already thinking about holiday and end-of-calendar-year appeals. And each year, as demands for cost-effectiveness increase and mail dates get earlier, it becomes more important to deliver a campaign that saves you time and money, maximizes your mailing’s response rate, and ultimately brings in gifts.
Here are 4 tips to help you get the most out of your seasonal appeal.
- Make It About the Content, Not the Mailer.
You can craft a beautiful appeal, perfectly segment your email list, and have it hit mailboxes at just the right time. And it can still fall flat – if your content doesn’t resonate. It’s important to know your audience’s preferences and the most compelling way to tell them your story.
Personal Stories, or By the Numbers?
Many nonprofits do truly inspiring work – supporting individuals, communities, the arts, the environment, wildlife. Highlighting the beneficiaries of your work can make a strong, immediate, emotional connection and motivate donors to join your cause.
If you’re highlighting complex ideas, fiscal responsibility, or quantifiable achievements, you might tell your story with numbers: Visualizing data and presenting statistics in a bold graphic design can tell a story by the numbers.
Whether you focus on the human element, statistical impact, or a combination of both, make sure your copy, imagery, and design work together to create a sense of urgency and evoke an emotional response.
- Do What You Can As Early As You Can.
If you’ve just begun a new fiscal year, you’ve probably got each appeal on the calendar. Now take a closer look: If there are repeating items in each appeal – an outer business reply envelope (BRE), for example – consider getting them printed up front. Because printing is priced on volume, your cost per piece will be lower the more your print at one time.
You’ll also want to plan with your vendor’s schedule in mind. The busiest time for press and fulfillment houses is now, so schedule your mailing for as early as possible, typically mid-October to early November. Most printers can help you prepare your files to ensure a smooth process; but a true partner will be capable of data-driven variable printing and other tech to help you mail smarter.
- Figure Out Your “Flash-to-Return” Ratio.
In the battle for attention at the mailbox, appeals have become increasingly flashy and complicated. Before you spend a considerable chunk of your budget on box mailers and die-cuts, consider your messaging and your target audience. Does the design align with your values and mission? Does it convey your campaign theme? Will it resonate with your ideal donors?
While larger, more dimensional mailers can improve open rates, minor enhancements to a standard letter and BRE can also make a positive impact on your audience and achieve the desired results. For instance, these tweaks are known to increase open rates:
- A closed-faced envelope instead of an address window
- A stamp in place of an indicia
- Personalized messages (teasers) and specialty fonts on the outer envelope
In the end, a traditional approach combined with some creativity is still a very cost-effective way to get prospects to open and respond.
- Partner with an Experienced Printer with 21st-century Capabilities.
In 2018, producing and mailing an appeal campaign is mere table stakes for a printer. You want to partner with a team that not only has expertise in the time-tested best practices of direct mail but also has state-of-the-art digital capabilities. With variable printing, you can personalize messages, ask amounts, and more based on what your database reveals about their giving history and other demographic information. When you get to know your donors as people, you can better craft messages that will trigger the right response.
What About Email?
When it comes to fundraising, a printed piece simply works (even with Millennials and Gen Zers):
- It creates a lasting tangible connection.
- It’s a tactile reminder of your organization, your mission, and your request
- Unlike email, it doesn’t get filtered to a recycling bin before a decisionmaker sees it.
Of course, the best campaign will combine direct mail and email. You need to find the appropriate balance for your goals, but it is imperative to partner with a leader in direct mail fundraising appeals. Strata Company is the leader in direct mail fundraising appeals. Through best practices, data-driven methodologies and smart production decisions, we maximize budgets and ROI for nonprofit organizations.
Ready to plan your next appeal? Contact us to discuss your needs today.