Political Marketing That’s Fooling Some of the People, Some (or All) of the Time

Increasingly unable to escape the deluge of hysterical ill-directed political marketing that is overflowing my inbox, I’ve jealously started wondering what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are guiding these communications consultants to justify their million-dollar fees.

Increasingly unable to escape the deluge of hysterical ill-directed political marketing that is overflowing my inbox, I’ve jealously started wondering what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are guiding these communications consultants to justify their million-dollar fees.

Are their efforts fooling all of the people all of the time? Or just some of the people some of the time?

In product marketing initiatives, there can be lots of bottom-line winners — all of the brands whose clickthrough numbers exceed the company’s KPI targets and show the kinds of bottom-line sales results that bring smiles to shareholders’ faces and money to their pockets. But political marketing is a zero-sum game.

The ultimate KPI is winning or losing, becoming Senator, Governor or even White House occupant. Along the way, political marketers, like all fundraisers, especially those seeking campaign funding contributions, are no doubt watching to see all the obvious KPI metrics. They’re looking for percentages contributing, range of contribution amounts and average contributions, first-time or multiple “givers.” One can’t help but wonder: In the last analysis, do they really want to see more than the KPI which says “WIN” or “LOSE”?

I don’t know about you (and given our growing desires for privacy, I’m not sure I have any right to know about you) but I’ll bet my inbox gets more political fundraising and petition-gathering mail than yours does. Every day, mine displays a stunning collection that sorely tempts me to invoke the Spam solution.

But I hesitate, because I guess I’m a political junkie. Otherwise, I’d figure out a way never to hear any word that rhymes with “rump” again. (All readers’ entries will be gratefully considered, published and/or deleted.) You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

Way back in early 2017, I wrote a column here venting my frustration with the tsunami of inviting, pleading, and threatening emails I was receiving daily from the Democratic party’s octopus of units, the DCCC, the Democratic National Committee, Maggie for NH, National Democratic Training Committee (the worst and most outrageous), Progressive Turnout Project and the imperious commands from House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi: “Not Asking for Money“ (which always end up asking for money) and the order, “READ NOW” “(don’t delete)”.  Here are some others:

  • URGENT — 20K SIGNATURES NEEDED: Women’s reproductive rights on the line
  • Add your name to hold Big Pharma accountable
  • Fwd: ? NOT asking for money
  • Sign this petition re: Trump’s golf course
  • Need Peter’s signature to STOP TRUMP
  • You have been selected to represent voters in your area

It appears that fooling the prospect into believing he/she is one of a very select group and asking for the target to complete a survey or a petition is this year’s most effective political marketing and, dare I say it, fundraising tool. I guess we all want to feel special; even if deep-down, we know that everyone has been “selected.”

Can I be the only person offended when assaulted by a subject line: “Peter is committed to vote for Donald Trump!?” Only after having voiced a few favorite expletives do I notice that “?”. But by then, I’m hooked on the rest of the message.

If the KPIs must first, be the number of surveys or petitions completed and the number abandoned and second, the contribution generation from the pitch at the end of the survey, I must be screwing up the political marketers’ dashboards. Given the number of headline changes, you’d think that either nothing works or everything does.

Can the almost daily surveys do anything more than fool a certain number of people into believing their voices reach the ears of anyone? Especially anyone who really cares what they think, more than whether they will pony up some money?

The hardly impartial rhetorical questions: “Donald Trump recently lied by claiming millions of voters cast their ballots illegally this year. Do you think he will use this lie to try to further suppress minority voters in future elections?” are always quite reasonably followed by, “Will you make a $3 contribution right now to help us advance our data-driven strategies to help Democrats win?”

What Data-Driven Marketing 101 teaches must be true, or they wouldn’t keep using the technique. And as pointed out recently in Forbes:

The amount of money invested will be in the billions of dollars — all spent within roughly a calendar year. The degree of sophistication, customization, micro-targeting, and proliferation across media channels is unprecedented. The goal is to create a lot of content that is both pushed to people — who then share it with others — and made available so that people find it on their own. What this means is that the authority of TV ads has diminished. At POOLHOUSE [an agency serving the Republican Party] we have to approach getting a candidate’s message out to voters in a much more complex manner, and that makes political marketing more challenging. But more interesting, as well.

The old way of marketing political candidates no longer works, as the exponential increase in information leads to higher consumer/voter intelligence.

How to develop KPIs to follow the complexity and drive strategic changes depends to a great extent on political judgement calls as much as traditional brand marketing experience, and may actually justify those sky-high consultant fees.

Perhaps I’m being overly cynical and should signal that at least some surveys have a grander purpose. Sky Croeser, writing in The Conversation opined:

Online petitions are often seen as a form of “slacktivism” — small acts that don’t require much commitment and are more about helping us feel good than effective activism. But the impacts of online petitions can stretch beyond immediate results.

Whether they work to create legislative change, or just raise awareness of an issue, there’s some merit to signing them. Even if nothing happens immediately, petitions are one of many ways we can help build long-term change.

The possibility of building “long-term” change is not without its merits; although, building the KPIs to measure the change is a daunting task.

Now imagine if that change means that political and general marketers could no longer fool all or even some of the people, all or even some of the time. But hold on a sec. Then we need to consider how many of us might have to change our ways or be out of the game.

How Events Hurt Major Gifts — And What to Do About It

I was in a meeting with the fundraising staff of a very prominent and successful nonprofit, and the leader of the major gifts program told the familiar story of how he and his staff had been pulled away from their major gift work to organize an event that “meant a lot to the board.”

eventIt happened again.

I was in a meeting with the fundraising staff of a very prominent and successful nonprofit, and the leader of the major gifts program told the familiar story of how he and his staff had been pulled away from their major gift work to organize an event that “meant a lot to the board.”

I was stunned by what I was hearing, because the major gift staff already had its hands full with substantial increases in goals for the fiscal year, and now it was being recruited to spend a good deal of time and money organizing a feel-good event that, quite frankly, had nothing to do with fundraising.

It was true that the event would net $50,000. But when I heard that number, I asked if staff time had been calculated into the cost. No, it hadn’t. And when we did the math, that $50,000 net disappeared in a nanosecond.

What is it about nonprofit boards, leaders and staff who so easily catch events fever and lose their way on thinking objectively about this topic?

Yes, a well-organized event, with the right content, can raise the profile of a nonprofit. But then, why not have the public relations or communications department handle it? Why pull the major gift folks away from relating to their good donors to do this work? I know. Because it’s the donors on the caseload that will be the core group who will make the event financially successful.

Hold on. Did you just hear what I said? The donors on the caseload will make the event financially successful. Hmm. So we are moving money from the major gift officer’s caseload to the event and increasing the expense to secure that money? Yep. Crazy. And, likely, the gift the major donor gives at the event will be far less than what she could have given if the major gift officer had managed the giving outside of the event.

But these major donors will bring their friends, and we can make them our friends, and everything will be grand. It’s true. I have seen this happen. But not very frequently. Here’s why. The friend has come at the invitation of the major donor, and two things are working against them getting further involved:

• The friend is simply servicing an obligation. They have no intent to get involved. It is a nice social time out with a good friend and that’s that. Or they are trading favors. “You came to my gig last month. I go to yours now.” And while you could turn this around with a compelling program, the fact is …

• There is no compelling program presented. This has always amazed me. We get all of these wonderful people together. And they have a ton of capacity to give. But all we offer, besides a nice meal, is some quick facts about who we are, a testimonial, an award to a board member or key volunteer and other nicey-nicey things. And everyone goes home feeling good.

If the leaders in your organization have events fever — in other words, hardly any argument or reasoning will dissuade them organizing an event — then make the best of it by doing the following:

1. See if you can get some other department to do the heavy lifting. Get PR, communications, the volunteer coordinator, the assistant to the executive director — someone other than you — to organize it. In other words, protect your major gift time as best you can. Time is all you have. And there is very little of it to put toward relating to your caseload donors. So have a mindset of delegating as much as you can.

2. Sell tickets to cover costs. This isn’t a new idea, and it’s regularly done. I only mention this to set up the next point. Your objective is to break even or have a positive net to cover the labor involved.

3. Create a compelling program that presents an “I can’t avoid supporting it” project. Yes, you heard correctly. I am suggesting selling tickets and asking for gifts at the event. And the ticket-selling process should clearly outline what you are doing. “I am selling tickets to cover costs because I want you to come with your friends and hear about this exciting must-do project.” Obviously, you have to create something that the donor and their friends and other prospects want to attend.

Think about this like you do when you go out with friends to dinner and split the check. That’s all that is going on. The donors are covering the cost to attend a presentation. The whole event must then be carefully choreographed, from start to finish, so that the donors and their friends are completely engulfed in the drama and journeys of the people who will be helped when they get involved. When I say start to finish, I mean things like:

  • The look of the ticket and program.
  • Signage at the venue.
  • Material on the tables or, if outside, those materials as well.
  • What the greeters say to people coming in.
  • The sequencing, cadence and messaging of the program — every single element is discussed and programmed. Nothing is left to chance.
  • The testimonials and comments of people invited to speak.
  • The pictures, videos, music and any other program elements.
  • Every single element is strategic — even when and how a meal is served. Everything.
  • The price tag for the project needs to be large enough to accommodate the giving goals you have set for every donor on your caseload and their friends and other non-donors who may be present. You do not want to have a $100,000 project when the sum of all the goals of the donors present is $750,000. Doesn’t make sense.

Here’s the thing. Nothing is left to chance. Everything is intentional. And all of it draws you to this amazing thing “we must all do!” That is what I mean by compelling. You are drawn in and compelled to act. That is how engaging the program/project is.

4. Seed the event and the giving at the event with up-front giving by selected donors. Go to selected caseload donors and ask them to come to the event and make a commitment to the project. You might ask for a matching gift that can be unveiled at the event. It could really be quite dramatic. Picture this. The project is $850,000 and one donor, in advance, has pledged a $300,000 matching gift.

At a strategic moment at the event, the executive director calls on the donor to speak. She says something like, “When I heard about this project, I just had to get involved. Think of the difference we all could make if, tonight, we funded the whole thing! It would be so exciting. Look at all the lives that would be forever changed. That is why I am putting up a $300,000 challenge grant. Whatever you give tonight, up to $300,000, I will match. Come on, let’s get this done!” Wow, that would be something.

***

So, you get what I am saying about the same old, same old event vs. a version of what I am describing above. This is a real fundraising event. Not the faux event that so many nonprofits spend so much time on. If you are going to do an event, do it right. Make it cause-oriented vs. just a happy time.

The cause is why the donors are involved — they want to make a difference in someone’s life. Program your event toward that reality. It will make a tremendous difference in the financial outcome and how the donors feel about your organization.

Someone Wants to Use Google AdWords as a Weapon

There’s a polarizing website that’s been a big player in the political arena. And there’s a viral campaign that’s trying to use Google AdWords to hurt it.

I’m surprised. I’m shocked. I’m intrigued. And what’s even crazier is, even though I have personal feelings on the issue, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this new activism strategy.

Every day, I and my agency, Eleventy, use Google AdWords to help connect brands and people we believe might be interested. And, because the majority of my day is spent specifically working on nonprofit marketing and fundraising, I am especially appreciative to all that Google has made possible to charities.

So, imagine my surprise when I heard that someone figured out how to weaponize the AdWords network. Here’s the scoop, and the real names have been changed to protect the — well, I’m just not going to provide names.

There is a viral campaign going around right now born from the discomfort people have with a certain online news site. This website seems to polarize many people in the U.S. and has been a big player in the recent political arena. The campaign is trying to use the very basic feedback elements of AdWords to hurt the website.

I’ll keep this short, because this blog is not about how to do this. This new level of what is being called “simple activism” is about having people go to this website where brands have placed their ads. Within the ad feedback loop, which can be accessed by anyone who sees an ad, there is a simple way to provide feedback on the actual website (vs. the ad).

And, because Google is great at being in touch with consumer feedback, it provides various options for why someone might have a problem with a website. Here’s a screenshot (click to enlarge):

Google AdWords Weaponized

Now, while the average consumer would typically not use this, the new viral approach is requesting that people do this on purpose and specifically leave feedback that the website promotes racial intolerance and advocates against individuals or groups of people.

The goal is to create enough movement in this area that the website is removed from the AdWords network. And, of course, if a brand is removed from the network, it will also lose advertising revenue.

Even though I know everyone reading this would have an opinion on one side or the other of this social issue, the purpose of this blog is not to weigh in on this activism campaign.

But, as a marketer who leverages the AdWords network every day, this has me very nervous. It will be interesting to see how Google reacts, because this could so quickly create a slippery slope where consumers attempt to censor media. No matter how you lean politically or personally, I’m just not sure this is the way to go about it handling an issue against a website.

If Google were to react to this in the way the activists are pushing, we could quickly see how digital advertising could be used as a weapon against brands directly.

Have an opinion on this? Share it with me in the comments. I’d love to hear if my knee-jerk reaction is common or not.

Revisiting the Lowly Postcard

Earlier this year, I received a postcard mailing from the Share and Care Foundation, a nonprofit organization located in New Jersey. In just four panels (one of which was the address panel), the postcard tackled one of those funding needs that make many fundraisers cringe — toilets.

Earlier this year, I received a postcard mailing from the Share and Care Foundation, a nonprofit organization located in New Jersey. In just four panels (one of which was the address panel), the postcard tackled one of those funding needs that make many fundraisers cringe — toilets.

“The Toilet Crisis” was the headline on the first inside panel. The copy continued, “600 million people in India do not have access to indoor toilets,” and then explained in two bullet points that this leads to the spread of diseases and safety issues for women.

I was intrigued. After all, conventional wisdom is that postcards, lacking a response means other than going online, are not the best fundraising tool. They also offer limited space to make a case for support. Yet they are relatively inexpensive and lack the barrier of the envelope that one needs to open before seeing the contents. So, was this enough to drive people to the website to give a $130 toilet to a family in India?

I spoke to Tejal Parekh, the senior operations manager at Share and Care Foundation, and asked her, “So, did it work?” The short answer is “yes.” The foundation’s goal for the mailer was to raise enough money to build 750 toilets in 2016; it already has completed more than 500 toilets as a result of donations it’s received from the postcard and a follow-up email.

That’s worth a second look, so let’s unpack this postcard just a bit.

Measuring 8×6″, the mailer folded to 4×6″ and was double tabbed. The address panel had a live, presorted, standard-rate stamp. There was no teaser on that panel, but it did invite the recipient to sign up for updates; call or email with questions, comments or concerns; or “Please let us know if you receive duplicate mailings.” In other words, this panel was hardworking, albeit functional.

BardenPostcard1
The exterior of Share and Care Foundation’s postcard that aimed to raise money for toilets in India.

The front panel was pretty much a rule-breaker when it comes to direct response. It had artwork—a doorway that might represent the entrance to a house, but it’s not really clear because it is stylized. The headline was in all caps with a drop shadow and never mentioned “you,” the donor. Added to that, it referred to one of the least sexy of all programs: indoor toilets, and sanitation and hygiene education.

But once you opened the postcard, the story unfolded, beginning with the headline noted earlier.

Parekh explained that the young person on the marketing team who put this together for Share and Care Foundation “told the story in a few simple lines. People don’t want to see too much misery, so photos were more positive images, and there was also a simple drawing of a family. It was short, yet it told a story.”

The interior of Share & Care Foundation's postcard that aimed to raise money for toilets in India.
The interior of Share and Care Foundation’s postcard that aimed to raise money for toilets in India.

I agree. The postcard caught my attention and apparently that of others on its U.S. database—donors and prospects. As mentioned, the response was excellent. Why? According to Parekh, the offer made sense, and the price point was reasonable.

The response mechanism was to drive people to a webpage that reiterated the offer (and added more information). When one clicked the “Donate Today” button at the bottom of the page, he or she went directly to a donation page that quickly summed up the offer and asked for $130 for a toilet. There were also lower amounts, but $130 was the focus. (One change I would make would be to add the “Donate Today” button to the top of the page, as well; right now, there is a “Donate Now” button as part of the header, but when you click that, it goes to a generic donation page. That could discourage someone who just wants to give a toilet.)

One of the surprises for the foundation was that a lot of lapsed donors responded. Again, it was a clear, compelling offer (reduce disease and improve women’s safety) at an affordable price point ($130). Plus, the only barrier to reading about the offer was two tabs. The copy was minimal, the story was easily understood, and the focus was on the beneficiaries, not the organization. Plus, it offered proof—the foundation already built 350 toilets in four villages and wanted to do more.

Yes, there are some things I would l want to change on this mailer (that’s an occupational hazard), but that’s not the point; the point is that Share and Care Foundation took a risk and sent out a lowly postcard that some would argue lacks what it takes to be a serious fundraiser—and made it work. It told a story briefly and in terms “Average Pat Donor” could understand. It made it relatively easy to respond by providing a simple URL and a specific landing page. It kept its costs low.

The foundation took a risk—and it paid off. So kudos to Share and Care Foundation. And for all the rest of us, maybe it’s time to rethink the postcard. It’s worth a test, but remember Parekh’s advice: The offer and the price point need to make sense, and the story has to be simple.

Saving Bees With the Ultimate Direct Mail Freemium

Direct mail freemiums can seem pretty dull after a while when you’ve seen as many as I have over the years at Who’s Mailing What! But sometimes a tactic — a simple packet of seeds — makes me sit up and take notice … and it all started with dying bees.

Direct mail freemiums  can seem pretty dull after a while when you’ve seen as many as I have over the years at Who’s Mailing What! Address labels, notepads, calendars, stickers … you can argue about how much real value they provide to donors these days. And, even knowing that they still lift response for many nonprofits, I might agree with you.

But sometimes a tactic — a simple packet of seeds — makes me sit up and take notice … and it all started with dying bees.

The collapse in honeybee populations in recent years is a big story because it has implications beyond the intrinsic worth of an animal species. Besides providing honey, bees pollinate the crops that provide a third of American food. Yes, a third. That’s a lot of nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

Bees_01Originally I wanted to write about how environmental groups are fundraising around this crisis. I had gathered mail from Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Earthjustice, and intended to compare outers, letters, incentives, etc.

Then, a #10 envelope from the Sierra Club was dropped on my desk.

SierraC_01There’s nothing like a short teaser in a distressed typeface (“BUZZ KILL”) and a large image of a dead bee to immediately grab your attention.

This member acquisition effort centers on how the usage of certain pesticides is threatening farms and businesses because it is also killing bees. The letter and inserts name the culprits, and there’s a brief petition to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on the reply form to push for a legislative remedy.

So in most respects, Sierra Club isn’t doing anything different from its colleagues named earlier, with one exception: this envelope includes a “BEE FEED Flower Mix.”

SCSeeds_01As the packet says, these seeds are for flowers that “provide nectar and pollen to wild bees, honey bees, and other pollinators.” Besides growing instructions, the back of the pack lists the ingredients: seeds for California Poppy, Blue Flax, New England Aster, etc.

Seeds have long been included in direct mail packages, but purely as an incentive to donate. Any connection to a group’s specific message or appeal has been tangential at best.

Here, the seed packet is a powerful involvement device, not a reward. It gives the recipient something literally hands-on to do: plant seeds for flowers that will save bees. It doesn’t get any more practical or relevant to the mission than that.

Also, like other elements mailed by advocacy groups, it makes the contributor a partner in the mission. Instead of a “street team,” you’re part of the garden team.

As the letter puts it: “Before long, we’ll provide plenty of clean, healthy, unpoisoned food for bees. We’ll regenerate the bees and the planet.”

The front and back of the packet also contain reassurances that the seeds are untreated and non-GMO, important considerations for much of the target audience for this mailer.

One slight criticism: the call to action (to use the seeds) appears three times in the letter, but nowhere on the reply form. Even with a lot going on there, it’s another opportunity to connect the dots for the donor.

You know that old parable about the kid throwing beached starfish back into the water?

A packet of seeds may not seem like that much either, but it will still make a difference.

4 Delicious Ways to Leverage Recipes in Direct Mail

Direct mail can affect you in a lot of ways. It can make you happy, angry, inspired or sad … but can it make you hungry? It can when it includes food recipes. Here are some ideas, based on mail found in Who’s Mailing What!, on how to entice customers with food content.

Direct mail can affect you in a lot of ways. It can make you happy, angry, inspired or sad … but can it make you hungry? It can when it includes food recipes, even when one of them turns out to be for borscht.

A few weeks ago, Ashley Roberts of Printing Impressions (a sister brand of Target Marketing) asked me to appear in a video with her to profile a mailing that Agfa Graphics sent to its VIP file. The beautiful food photography of the calendar and its accompanying cookbook was enhanced by augmented reality. You can read and see all about it here.

It got me thinking about other companies that have used recipes as an important ingredient in their marketing mix. Here are some ideas, based on mail found in Who’s Mailing What!, on how to entice customers with food content.

1. Demonstrate Your Product
This is almost too obvious: if food is your product, it certainly can’t hurt to help to offer a demonstration of how it can be prepared or used in a meal. For instance, supermarkets or packaged goods marketers can tie a recipe to a food that’s part of a sales promotion, special offer, or coupon.

Penzeys Spices sells high-quality spices for the home chef, from cinnamon and lemon peel to extracts and chili peppers. It has a chain of brick-and-mortar stores, an e-commerce website, and a direct mail catalog, all of which rely on recipes.

Penzey_0001Here’s an example. This partial page from a Penzeys catalog describes saffron’s properties, the varieties that are available, and their pricing. The recipe that’s shown is so simple to follow that even I can master it.

When combined with numerous sidebar pieces and long-form articles in each issue of the catalog, this tactic bolsters the authenticity of Penzeys’ brand.

2. Reinforce Your Mission
Clever organizations have leveraged recipes for the right types of foods that are in keeping with their goals. Lots of health systems and hospitals mail newsletters and magazines that are chock-full of juicy content, like tips on exercise and disease prevention, as part of creating a more healthy lifestyle. To encourage healthier eating of one kind or another — low salt, low sugar, etc. — recipes are provided.

NtlOsteo_0001National Osteoporosis Foundation focuses on bone health and improving screening and other preventative measures in its fundraising campaigns. To supplement those efforts, and to support the group’s expertise, a recent appeal included two recipe cards and highlighted the calcium amount for each food.

3. Support Your Product
Recipes have long been used to tease printed products — like magazines, cookbooks, diet plans, and recipe cards — that focus on food. But what if the product isn’t print?

ComFoodN_0001Comcast, for example, partnered with the Food Network on a direct mail promotion for all of its entertainment and communications packages.

Images throughout the brochure show food in different holiday settings, as well as the channel’s programs and personalities.

And the next-to-last page? Two “tasty holiday recipes,” with pictures, for “Really Onion Dip” and “Butter-and-Jam Thumbprints.”  Yum.

4. Reward Your Customers
As the forward to the cookbook shown below notes, “food and travel are inextricably connected.” It was mailed to past customers who had traveled with Grand Circle, a tour operator. There’s no promotion for any upcoming trips, just a request for feedback on the cookbook itself.

GrandC_0001The book’s 48 pages are designed to “inspire a culinary journey at your table,” with recipes covering dishes from a variety of Mediterranean destinations. With its high-gloss coated stock and spiral binding, it’s the perfect thing to sit on a kitchen counter as the traveler cooks and dreams of their next trip with the company, and the food they’ll eat along the way.

The one big takeaway to using recipes in mail is that it’s really not all that different than cooking itself. It’s a tactic that should be carefully measured out in just the right amounts to achieve the desired outcome, and not overwhelm the senses, or the tastes, of the customer.

Direct Mail for Nonprofit Fundraising

One of the most common industries to use direct mail is the nonprofit sector. With the economic hard times many nonprofits have more people to serve and are getting less in donated funds. This creates a drastic gap between needs and financial ability to provide them. In many cases, this gap is driving nonprofits to create more fundraising campaigns as well as finding more potential donors to send to.

One of the most common industries to use direct mail is the nonprofit sector. With the economic hard times, many nonprofits have more people to serve and are getting less in donated funds. This creates a drastic gap between needs and financial ability to provide them. In many cases, this gap is driving nonprofits to create more fundraising campaigns as well as finding more potential donors to send to. So let’s see how direct mail can drive your response to increase your donations. Direct mail is more costly than sending out an email due to printing, mailing and postage costs, but when you can increase your ROI to more than cover that cost, it can be well worth it.

In direct mail your list is one of the most important parts. Obviously, the best list is your list of current donors. The USPS requires you to comply with their Move Update regulations by updating your lists every 95 days. There are several important list hygiene tools available to help keep your data clean and accurate.

  • Don’t forget to occasionally solicit lapsed donors. Consider telemarketing to those audiences in addition to mail.
  • Keep your donor mailing lists up to date. Obsolete data not only costs you money spent on undeliverable or misdirected mail, but can cause lost donations and can impact donor goodwill.
  • Studies have found that on average, up to 20 percent of records within a typical house file are undeliverable. By keeping your data current, you will save on printing, mailing and postage costs.
  • National Change of Address (NCOA) for new addresses of people who have moved.
  • Dedupe, so that you are not sending multiple pieces to the same address.
  • Deceased recipient purging, removing anyone who has been reported as recently deceased, can be a great asset as your list of donors are aging.

Finding good lists of prospective donors can be hard. Here are a few ideas you can try.

  1. Trade lists other nonprofits in your area. Make sure to code the lists when you send them out so that you know who responded from what list.
  2. You can find targeted prospect lists by looking for individuals who are sympathetic to your mission and have the capacity to give. By utilizing available list targeting tools it is possible to find prospects that most closely resemble your best donors.
  3. You can customize a list to your specific cause and overlay demographic and psychographic intelligence onto your donor data.
  4. Another option is to profile you donor list. Sophisticated list profiling is now a reality. Through a powerful array of new market segmentation tools you can profile the unique characteristics of your best donors and identify and target new prospects most like them. The results can boost your direct response rate, increase your market penetration, and dramatically improve your fundraising ROI.

Something else that Nonprofits should take note of, if you are mailing raffle tickets: The United States Postal Service (USPS) is strictly enforcing regulations on mailing raffle tickets. If you plan to mail raffle tickets for a fundraiser, you must meet requirements or the USPS could legally refuse to accept your mail. While it is legal to include advertising for a raffle, including a raffle or lottery ticket in a mailing is strictly prohibited unless you follow USPS guidelines. To avoid potential problems, the USPS requires the ticket makes clear that no payment is required to enter a raffle. The following elements should appear on each ticket in a mailing:

  1. Use the wording “suggested donation” before the price of the ticket.
  2. Use the wording “no donation required to enter” or add a check box “Please enter my name in the drawing. I do not wish to make a donation at this time.”

An alternative is to not include a ticket in the mailing. It is legal to advertise a raffle by mail, but you should still use the phrase “suggested donation” if you list the price of a ticket on the advertisement.

Using direct mail for nonprofit fundraising is a great way to help increase your donations. If you are in need of other tips or tricks feel free to reach out and ask providers. They have a wealth of knowledge to help you.