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Tis the Season for Direct Marketing Appeals!

November 27, 2012
Fifty million pieces of charity mail are delivered on average per day.  However, it is likely that one from your organization was just tossed in the trash yesterday, leaving you scratching your head, trying to figure out why that letter was never opened.

Direct mail fundraising accounts for the majority of the roughly $300 billion contributed annually in the U.S. Thatís right. The bulk of charitable money isnít from foundations or corporations. Itís from folks like you and me writing checks for 10 bucks.

Direct mail fundraising is both an art and a science. Itís conceiving, producing and mailing the right appeal to the right list or donor prospects at the right time and measuring the result.

In its modern form, direct mail fundraising appeared in the United States after World War II when nationwide charities such as the National Easter Seal Society sought ways to broaden its fundraising base. It was only with the advent in the 1960s of the ZIP code and, later, the computer that direct mail fundraising began to gain wide use.

The use of direct mail fundraising spread during the 1970s, when computer technology quickly allowed direct mail to become how most Americans learned about, and first provided financial support, for their charities of choice.

Itís the same today. Technology drives the response, whether the mail sends people to a website or donors see something on the web and clicks to contribute.

As veterans of successful fundraising campaigns incorporating direct mail, we wanted to take an opportunity to provide some useful ďdos and donítsĒ:
  • Do draft shorter, more succinct notes to established donors
  • Do draft longer missives with those you wish to acquire (on the theory that someone who is willing to send you money wants to know a great deal about the organization.)
  • Do offer premiums (results show an 11 Ė 15% lift in response rate and a 40-50% increase in average gift)
  • Donít underestimate the pull of a powerful P.S. with a call to action
  • Donít neglect the personal touch (refer to the potential donor by name early and often!)
  • Donít stress what YOU are offering; stress what benefits donors will accrue by participating

If done correctly, direct ďsnailĒ mail or email should be provocative enough to cause even the most jaded to rip or click. What additional tips have worked for you?

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