3 Answers about Acquiring New Donors Through Direct Mail
Acquire new donors. It's a directive that every fundraiser has heard, especially in the recent era of financial instability for nonprofit organizations and donors alike. And it was the topic of a recent DirectMarketingIQ webinar entitled "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.)
So, which direction to go with that directive? There seems to be so many more options, with the emerging channels of email, mobile and social media, but in truth, especially for donor acquisition, direct mail remains the dominant marketing medium.
Speakers Bob Merrigan — President of Merrigan & Co., a Kansas-City based firm specializing in strategy and messaging for non-profits — and Michael Rooney — a partner at Integrated Direct Marketing, a full-service direct marketing agency that partners with nonprofit organization — tackled how to go about acquiring new donors for 60 minutes before being flooded with questions from attendees.
Here were a few highly relevant questions, and then answers:
Question: Have you tested or have you seen a difference in response rate or retention between freemium-acquired donors and those who respond for the back-end premiums?
Merrigan: Generally, acquisition response rates are higher with a freemium (or premium) offer than with a straight appeal. One reason is that the package may draw extra attention, particularly if it's a "lumpy" envelope and the recipient wonders what's inside. Another has to do with Cialdini's principle (weapon of influence) of reciprocity; you've given the recipient something, and it's only natural to feel the urge to reciprocate.
This is not always the case. For a client who typically offers a calendar as a backend premium, we tested sending it out as a freemium (swaggeringly confident the test would win, I might add). In fact, donor response rates were about 75 percent lower for the freemium package than the control, both among prior donors and our acquisition list.