Direct mail

Published on December 23, 2013 by

Don’t repeat my mistake when planning for next year

In a nutshell, here is the lesson.

If you’ve got the funds, spend it.

The reason I say this? It’s easiest if I explain by sharing a story of one my direct mail successes. It also happened to be one of my failures.

I once wrote an acquisition piece for a very small non-profit. It was inserted into a variety of publications and did exceptionally well.

When I say exceptionally well, it recruited 392 new donors (doubling the existing database). Income was almost $29,000. The cost was under $20,000.

Given most fundraisers will say you almost always lose money on ...

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Published on December 18, 2013 by

Have you ever made these 5 response-killing copy changes?

Last week I received a Christmas appeal I’d written in the mail. I opened the envelope then pulled out the letter and coupon. And my heart sank.

As a copywriter, I may spend hours putting blood, sweat and tears into an appeal pack. (And I’m not exaggerating about the tears – some beneficiaries have gone through horrific things.)

Then I receive the mailed pack with changes that I know will at best reduce response. At worst, it will make the appeal fail.

This doesn’t happen to me often because I encourage my clients to consult me if they wish to ...

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Published on December 5, 2013 by

Why you should use repeated asks in your fundraising letters

First, I’ll clarify what I mean by repeated asks. I mean the parts of the letter, usually highlighted in some way, that ask donors for a specific dollar amount for a specific purpose.

“June, your $50 gift means we can provide emergency food and shelter to a needy person this winter.”

Such an ask is repeated several times, depending on the length of the letter. The longer the letter, the more asks.

Here are two good reasons to use repeated asks.

1. The rule of seven

You’ve probably heard it said that a person ...

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Published on November 28, 2013 by

Beware these 7 overused fundraising phrases

These fundraising stock phrases have lost much of their punch.

Maybe one day they meant something. But now they’re used interchangeably across charities in different sectors – medical and health, overseas development, disability, youth, welfare. Pretty much any sector involving people.

What are these phrases?

You’ll know them (and their derivatives).

  1. Transforming lives (or changing lives)
  2. Saving lives
  3. Making a difference
  4. Having an impact
  5. Most vulnerable (or disadvantaged)
  6. Poorest of the poor
  7. Brighter future

Doubtless, you can think of more.

They are different to jargon in that they’ve probably been used effectively in the past. Samples of past ...

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Published on October 9, 2013 by

Risk-value segmentation – get better ROI on your direct mail

Risk-value segmentation takes into account the risk of losing a donor and the potential value of that donor.

World Vision developed and used this segmentation model to get better return on investment from several direct mail campaigns. The results included average gifts up to $30 higher and response rates 10-20% higher.

Thanks to supporter growth manager Bernadette Kennedy for sharing on this at the recent F&P Forum. I thought this model could be useful to other charities, so I decided to follow up on her generous offer to speak to their Marketing Intelligence team about it. Senior marketing intelligence manager ...

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Published on October 4, 2013 by

4 ways to raise more money from your Christmas appeal

Everyone’s in the throes of Christmas appeal planning. So I thought it may be useful to throw in some of the “best bang for your buck ways” to raise more money for your charity this Christmas.

1. Review your Christmas offers

I don’t know why but some charities seem to feel that people will give just because it’s Christmas.

This is partly true. Donors will give – but you still need to develop a compelling offer.

A lot of the letters I see around Christmas time go something like this:

Please give $50 to help disadvantaged people in ...

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Published on August 20, 2013 by

Donors need simple asks – Part 2

In Part 1, I talked about the problem of how to frame a double-barrelled offer.

That is, what to do if you have to develop a promotion where you have to work two benefits into a single offer.

Here are three ways to deal with this issue.

1. Bundle the benefits

I see this done a lot.

It basically involves looking at the two benefits and seeing if there’s a way to link them together under a single title.

I don’t favour this because it often results in watering down the offer. ...

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