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Electrifying Results: Fundraising Insights to Move the Needle for Your Nonprofit

Test and Evaluate

Photo by Howard Lake.

Photo by Howard Lake.

If you are like me, you’ve received a direct mail piece with a nickel in it at least once in your life. I’ll admit I cannot stand this method of donor acquisition. It feels like a guilt tactic, and giving out of guilt doesn’t feel good. I also can’t help but start mentally calculating how many hundreds of thousands of pieces of direct mail were sent out, multiplied by that extra five cents in each envelope.

That said, I do open the envelope and spend at least a few seconds reviewing the contents. You know why? Because I cannot justify throwing money away—no matter if it is only a nickel. And you know why I continue to receive these “nickel” mailings annually? Because they work. Perhaps it’s guilt over needing to return the nickel to a needy organization. Perhaps it’s the fact that the nickel caused someone to take the first step and open the envelope to get to the wonderful appeal letter inside. For whatever reason, those who use these types of mailings use them because they work. They know they work because they’ve tested them.

Testing and evaluating your direct mail efforts regularly is vital. The three laws of testing are:

  • Always have a control group that will receive the regular appeal so you have something to test against.
  • Only change one element at a time when testing. If you test too much, you won’t know what worked and what didn’t.
  • Code the different versions, so you can track response rates.

What should you test? Here are some ideas:

  • Use of a postage-paid return envelope
  • Signatory
  • Amount requested
  • Number of pieces in the envelope
  • Premiums (i.e. nickels, return address labels, magnets, etc.)
  • Frequency of requests
  • Personalization

For each group, the control group and the test group, measure responses received per number mailed, the amount raised, the total cost/dollars raised and average gift. Over time, you’ll learn what works and increase your overall direct mail effectiveness.

AMPERAGE Fundraising Advisers is a full-service fundraising company whose mission is to move the needle for our clients. For more information on Amperage Fundraising Advisers or to make a recommendation for a future blog post, contact us today!