Thursday, February 26, 2009

Your next appeal mailing

Despite the economy, many charities are still doing better this year than last.

There are examples all over the world.

So how can they do that when there are so many charities saying things are much worse?

It can only be about tactics. There are lots of documents about strategy - here is a short bunch of tactical tips for your next mail appeal.

1) Personalise the ask amount, and put a personalised ask throughout the copy of the letter, that is, mail-merge the whole letter. “Please send $75 by 20 August...” where the $75 is 1.3 to 1.5 times the donor’s previous gift.

2) Have a deadline and a target in your letter.

3) Sandwich your mailings with email . Don’t replace your mailing with email to save money (it costs less and will raise less) but do a pre-email ' 'there is an important letter coming, please read it...' and a post email reminder driving to a specific landing page with all your appeals.

4) Consider pre- or post-mailing phone calls for top tier donors. Ring them, be nice and ask for their usual gift. At least 80 per cent of your money will come from just 20 per cent of your donors. Call those donors.

5) Apply the Pareto principle. Get the best pack, at any cost - and mail it to as many as you can afford to, rather than choosing the numbers to mail and designing a pack to fit that budget. It is nearly always better to mail a $3 pack to 10,000 people than a $1 pack to 30,000 - provided the $3 pack is better! Design the high value pack first, and make the low value pack a version of that rather than the other way. Put 80 per cent of your effort into the high value pack.

6) Consider Express Post Envelopes / DHL / Fed Ex for top 100 people if you can have an urgent deadline.

7) Send a follow up mailing to your best donors – non-responders and responders.

8) Spend 80 per cent of your precious time on the copy and 80 per cent of that on the letter. The letter is the most important thing in your direct mail packs.

9) Make sure the letter looks like a letter on headed paper and the response mechanism (which can be pretty or dull) flows from the letter and reinforces the appeal.

10) Ensure you have a wonderful case study / story with a beginning, middle and end. Not just statistics. Time and time again, personal stories have been shown to hammer statistics and internal jargon. And put personal detail in the story, make it more real.

An eight year old boy who has an epileptic fit six times a day is sad.

But when he shares with the donor that his biggest fear is peeing himself in front of his mates, and that they then tease him - that is personal.

11) Do what is right, not what is easy. Argue with the boss to put in those killer lines “Please call me on my direct line to discuss the mailing.” To quote Mark Philips from UK charity agency bluefrog "Embrace the hassle."

12) Don't worry about ROI or Cost of Fundraising - be driven by NET income; right now that is what your organisation needs more than anything else.

Be one of those charities raising more from their next mailing than last year.

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