Strategizing about direct mail can sometimes feel like plugging holes on a sinking ship. You fix one leak (low response rates), and another springs up somewhere else (lower average gift). With the ever-growing number of communication channels, it’s often tempting to just jump ship to the next new thing.
Despite being written off for years, direct mail is still an important piece of your fundraising arsenal. One of the benefits of direct mail is the ability to test new ideas, and the following are some insights we’ve picked up over the summer:
- Study: Donors React More to Direct Mail than Email (The NonProfit Times)
Takeaway: Yes, you should still be sending direct mail. Donors are more likely to read direct mail than email, and they think it does a better job telling a story and conveying facts. There are distinct differences between age groups—consider asking your donors which communication channels they prefer when they give their first gift.
- Make Those Solicitations Look Nice, but Not Too Nice (The Chronicle of Philanthropy)
Takeaway: Donors like a well-designed piece—you need to meet a certain standard for professionalism. But they can tell what’s expensive to make, and that can be a turnoff. So don’t go overboard with extras like heavy cardstock and gold trim.
- Fundraising in Alice’s Restaurant (The Agitator)
Takeaway: This tackles the age-old question regarding how many direct mail appeals you should send each year. In general, small organizations tend to under ask and larger organizations over ask. Instead of a one size-fits-all solution, Roger Craver offers some thought provoking questions to discern what makes sense for your organization.
The bottom line is direct mail can still be effective, but there isn’t an out-of-the-box solution that works for every organization. And we haven’t even gotten into who you should be mailing to, which is just as important. Don’t be afraid to test and experiment to find out what is most effective for your audience.
Shocking Statistic: A recent study by Grey Matter Research and Opinions 4 Good found more donors (38 percent) believe direct mail is better at telling a touching story, versus 23 percent who thought email was more effective.
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