WE all do it, but, do we do it well?
Direct mail is the workhorse of your fundraising program. It allows you to state your case for support, ask for a gift, and build your donor base. But, it does come at a cost. Why should it be the foundation of your program?
It can be done by one! There is not need for a network of volunteers or staff solicitors.
It provides instamatic revenue without the delay of pledges or even nonpayment of pledges.
It serves multiple purposes including inviting others to participate in special events, attend gatherings or parties, and fulfill phone-a-thon pledges and personal gift asks.
It can be used to obtain first-time donors, renew loyal ones, and reactivate lapsed donors.
It also builds the pipeline for major gift prospects as well building the success for that program.
The key to remember that different approaches are required for the different audiences.
And, no one size fits all. What works for one organization, does not necessarily work for another. Therefore, it is a process of try, try, and try again through rigorous testing methods and controls.
The basic elements of a direct mail appeal letter are the solicitation piece, outer envelope, the reply device and envelope and enclosures. When doing donor acquisition mailings, premiums often times are included and these add to the costs of the mailing.
Key is the timeline. There are many, many steps to getting a direct mail appeal out into the mail. Ensure that you have every step of the process is timed out so that you do not miss critical mailing deadlines. Truly, time IS money and you want to be right on! It is best to always figure in extra time for proofing, editing, and work with the printer. Sometimes, larger mailings have been know to take weeks or even months to prepare.
The use of outside vendors is quite common, however, this contractual arrangement adds to the cost and caution should be used. Outside vendors are more important when mail volume increases. Outside consultants such as www.hireacfre.com can write your direct mail appeal copy and tailor it to your particular constituents. Don’t disregard outsouring this to a professional if you are new, or lack the time to properly dedicate to this fundraising “workhorse.”