Best Direct Mail Formats, Benchmarks and Personalization for Acquiring New Donors
New blood. Fundraisers are busy trying out non-direct mail channels (email, mobile, social media) in varying efforts to retain their current donor bases. But regardless of how successful these channels are for any nonprofit, you can only go back to the well so often.
In other words, the donor stock must be restocked for a nonprofit to survive today, and by far the best way to acquire new donors remains direct mail. That was the topic of the recent DirectMarketingIQ webinar, "Acquiring New Donors through Direct Mail: Best practices and case studies from leading fundraisers." (Click here to access the webinar, as it's still available on-demand.)
Besides speaking during the webinar, Bob Merrigan—President of Merrigan & Co., a Kansas-City based firm specializing in strategy and messaging for non-profits—took time to answer many questions from attendees.
Here were a few highly relevant questions and answers:
Question: What is the best delivery for your direct mail piece? #10 envelope? Taped flier? Color? Plain?
Merrigan: Ask yourself, "How can I get attention in a way that sets the stage for for my ask, but doesn't give the prospect an opportunity to say 'no' before being asked?"
There's no single solution. I tend to prefer having the organization clearly identified; we all want open relationships ... why would you start out as a mystery. I tend to prefer printing design/copy rather than leaving the envelope blank. That's valuable real estate; you only have a few seconds to get attention and you need to use it. I like to invite (tease?) the reader into the package.
There are economic realities to deal with, too. Most acquisition efforts won't support a closed-face, hand-addressed envelope, but that may work well with higher dollar donors. We've tested four color vs. two color. Four color typically gives a lift in response, but it really depends on your mail quantities and production capabilities. If I were starting out (not much reference in terms of return to expect) I would probably go with 2 color.