Continuing on this same topic of direct mail, I was reading an article in the most recent Chronicle of Philanthropy (Volume XXI, No. 22, October 1, 2009) about this very topic. I really liked what some of the organizations are doing to see success with this year’s end of the year appeal.
Focus on your current donors.
Since direct mail appeals only result in 1-4% response rate overall and 13+% renewal response from past donors, it would make sense to focus on your current donors. We know that direct mail can be very expensive to print, assemble and mail a multi-piece letter. We also know that sending someone a letter is one the most ineffective ways to fundraise. So what is the solution?
- Send to just your current donors
- Send to those who have lapsed within the last couple of years. It is easier to get an old donor back than make a new one
- Make calls to your donors before and after the mailing
A friend of mine calls it “warm calling” instead of cold calling which I just love. Warm calling is when you have your current donors call the donors you are trying to solicit. They both share something in common – a passion for the organization. And this “warming” can be established very simply at the beginning of the phone call with: “Hi this Janie Warbucks, a donor and a member of nonprofit extraordinaire, and I was calling to ask you to renew your end of the year donation. My husband and I have already given toward the (insert dollar amount) goal. Will you join us?”
Keeping within this same vein, I would recommend going out and meeting with your donors (if you are not already doing so). Or maybe this is an opportunity to reach out to lower level donors. Make house calls or invite them out to the organization for a tour (especially if they haven’t been out in awhile). You will save money on postage by confirming a gift in person.
Last, but not least. I know I don’t have to tell you this, but I will remind you: when you receive a gift from a donor, thank them and thank them often. Pick up the phone and call them. I love this approach. Every time I give to my alma mater a current student calls me, identifies his or herself and thanks me for the gift. Very simple, and very effective.