The essence of smart direct mail fundraising is knowing who to ask and when to ask them.
Here are seven proven guidelines for mailing to the right donors at the right time, while not wasting money on the wrong ones:
- Ask your donors.
If you’re wondering how often to mail to your donors, ask them. Surveying for donor preferences is a great way to cultivate the relationship. Then, do what they asked! They’ll feel they’ve been listened to, and will reward you with greater generosity.
- Separate out low-dollar donors.
The cost of mailing frequently to low-dollar donors will often far exceed what they give. Mail less to these donors for a better return-on-investment.
- Focus on higher-dollar donors.
Spending more money on appeals with higher production values and more components will probably pay off in a higher average gift. With high-value donors like your sustainers or mid-levels, that means a lot more income.
- Consider lapsed donors.
Sometimes it’s best to let lower-dollar lapsed donors go. Reactivating them won’t pay. The opposite is true with higher-dollar lapsed donors. These are donors you want back.
- Test the year-enders.
Some donors give only at year-end. Mail them less during the year, but try adding an extra appeal at year-end.
- Find your off-season.
Your data will tell you when it is, but your off-season is probably during the spring and/or summer. Try mailing less to a portion of your file during that period to test how your donors react.
- Create a donor-centric newsletter.
A refreshing change of pace from typical fundraising mail, donor newsletters can show in detail how donors’ gifts are being put to use. That’s a powerful incentive to give.
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