Keep Direct Mail In Your Fundraising Repertoire

I’ve never heard social media so neatly summarized as it is in the TV spot for Walmart’s Family Mobile plan. A teenage girl excitedly tells her father, “We can pin, post, tweet, snap, tag, check, and share!” Think, for a minute, about how a “family mobile plan” would have been described in the early 80s: We can call each other on our cordless landline phone and send letters through the United States Postal Service!  It sounds like a sentence from the Stone Age, doesn’t it?

Comparatively, the number of shiny new digital marketing tools at our disposal is growing by leaps and bounds. Let’s face it, direct mail doesn’t carry the same panache as a clever Tweet, low-cost email, or “like” button. The idea of printing and mailing an Annual Fund letter belongs in #ThrowbackThursday for some folks. Many have even suggested that direct mail solicitation is “dead.” The low-cost lure of social media and the desire to stay on trend is understandably tempting. So why should you use a medium that some consider way past its prime?

The answer is simple: Direct mail remains one of the most high-leverage/high-yield fundraising opportunities available.

While social media should be an integral part of your overall marketing plan, direct mail should remain the centerpiece of your fundraising repertoire, or you’re putting your Annual Fund program at risk. No other medium can convey the personal warmth and amplify the mission of your organization as effectively as a well-written letter. A comprehensive direct mail program is mission-critical to a fundraising campaign’s success. Are you practicing all of the direct mail fundamentals? Read this partial checklist and find out:

  • Is your institution positioned as an effectively-run organization that’s enriching and supporting the community?
  • Do you have a mission-based message?
  • Is your segmentation strategy well-planned and executed?
  • Are you testing against a control letter?
  • Is the Ask stated early in the letter with confidence and passion?
  • Are you sending enough letters through the course of the campaign, at the right time, to the right people?
  • Is the letter well-formatted, with generous margins, a readable serif font, and sufficient length?
  • Are you completing a post-campaign analysis with observations and recommendations for the next fiscal year?
  • Is your direct mail program well-integrated with all of your communication platforms? 

I can hear your protests: What about the cost of direct mail solicitations? The declining response rates? The work involved in implementing the program?  And, those mounting “do not mail” requests?

RSC says, “Keep doing the hard work to get the best results.” RSC manages entire direct mail programs for non-profit institutions, and our experience is that results are actually improving, as are the gross and net revenues for our clients.  

In contrast to the “read it now, forget about two seconds later” climate of electronic media, a well-executed direct mail program offers a more measured, paced, and longer-living solicitation thatoften prompts gift responses weeks, and sometimes months, after it’s been received.

As our culture continues to embrace and evolve in social media, direct mail may eventually take on a different role or level of significance. But for now, it remains among the highest-producing and cost-effective fundraising method available, and should be the anchor for your Annual Fund program.   The “pin, post, tweet, snap, tag, check, and share” tactics have a place in today’s NFP solicitation program, too – just not one of prominence.

RSC can help you create an integrated, multi-channel fundraising plan. If you’d like to learn moreabout the success we’ve had helping non-profit organizations build successful direct mail programs, just click here and we will be happy to follow-up. 

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