The Power of thank You
The short list of direct mail's most effective words may vary from expert to expert, but there are a couple of standards you are likely to hear over and over: free, new, you, because, guarantee. The folks at Christian Children's Fund (CCF) would like to suggest a phrase for that list: thank you.
In July, the Richmond, Va.-based nonprofit used that one phrase as the entire focus of a mailing to launch The Heritage Circle for Children, an initiative created to recognize the more than 30,000 donors who have been giving to the organization for 25 years or longer (Archive code #613-171739-0507). "We have so many supporters ... that have been with us either through sponsorship or direct contribution for 25 or more years. And we wanted to do something to honor them for those years of support," explains Betty Forbes, CCF's vice president of marketing and sponsor services. "In this day and age, society might be a little fickle with going from one charity to another, but we found that ours stick with us a really long time, and we just wanted to say thank you for that."
That thank you arrived in a white, invitation-style 5-1/4" x 7-1/4" envelope, which features only a live, Presorted First Class stamp on the front and the nonprofit's return address and logo on the back. A handwritten-style font was used for the address, explains Reade Johnson, CCF's direct mail manager, to make the mailing look more like an invitation and to add a personal feel.
Inside, longtime donors are greeted by a 5" x 6-7/8" folded card that reads, "Welcome to The Heritage Circle for Children." The card unfolds to reveal a short letter from CCF President John F. Schultz, welcoming them to the Circle and thanking them for their "decades of loving children through CCF." Blue ink is used for Schultz's signature, further enhancing the personal feel of the effort and giving the impression that he signed each and every letter himself.
Tucked inside the letter is a 5" x 67/8" certificate of recognition, a three-color piece personalized with both the donor's name and the number of years he has been a CCF supporter. Schultz's signature appears againin the same blue inkat the bottom of the certificate.
"We wanted to have something that would be a reminder of the organization every single day, something that [donors] could keep in their home or on their desk that would remind them of the good work that they have enabled CCF to do," states Forbes.
Also included in the mailing is a 5" x 6-7/8" eight-panel brochure, which explains the Heritage Circle program,
gives a brief time line of the organization, highlights the many accomplishments it has made over its 67 years, and supports the goodwill nature of the mailing:
For generations, you have helped Christian Children's Fund ...
You bring love where there is isolation ...
You bring Courage where there is Fear ...
You bring Hope where there is Despair ...
CCF honors those who have opened their hearts to children for decades by welcoming them to The Heritage Circle for Children.
The brochure also features the only ask of the piece: A pillow-soft push to contact the planned giving office
appears on the back panel.
So far, donor reaction to both the program and the mailing has been great. "We've gotten calls from sponsors saying thank you for the recognition. They appreciate receiving something like this that thanks them for their years of contribution to the organization," states Forbes.
And while the effort was not cheap to produce, nor has it brought donations pouring in, money really was not the issue. "Many of [our donors] have said ... we brought back memoriesgood memoriesand that was one of the reasons we wanted to do this," explains Forbes. "We wanted them to still like their relationship with the organization, and [hoped] that if we remember them, that they would continue to remember us."