Keep Calm and Mail On

After Canada Post’s statement on job action this week made headlines across Canada, we’ve had many clients contacting us with concerns and seeking advice.

It’s understandable.  After all, so many of us are either in production for important fall and holiday mailings or are just about to be.  A postal service disruption during the crucial November and December giving months could be devastating.

My advice? Take a deep breath and keep on going and be prepare to make some course corrections in the event of a strike.

Why, you ask?

First, I honestly believe both Canada Post and CUPW understand how devasting a severe and prolonged postal service disruption would be for both parties’ long-term interests.

Second, recent history points to a mild or averted disruption.  In 2016, the strike was averted and the job action in the summer of 2011 lasted just over a week.

So what does this all mean in practical terms for you and your program right now?

Let’s look at the 2011 strike situation as an guide.

Back then, I had two clients in full direct mail production as the rotating strikes started.  And a third had just mailed.

For the two clients in production we worked with vendors to quickly add an insert in one client package and a PPS to the other’s letter (according to the stage of production.)

The insert was extremely simple (think 1980s elementary school note-home-from-the-office, photocopied on canary yellow paper) that outlined the issue and gave donors options for making their gift besides using Canada Post (IE online or by phone).

The insert invited donors to call a specific person (the one signing the note; it was a very personal and informal message)) at the charity to make a gift.  One client (a community hospital) even offered to have a staff member or volunteer pick up their cheque.  Donors were also reminded they could make a secure and convenient gift online.

The message explained that their support was more important than ever because the postal disruption could mean that some people wouldn’t give so that their decision to help and give via another method was very important decision.  The PPS stated the same info in a little more concise way.

The 3rd client who had already delivered their mailing to Canada Post added messages to their website and got the word out via an email alert, social media and did a voice broadcast call.

Following our advice, one client continued to inform their donors about the impact of the strike for the balance of the year, using buckslip inserts (same format and look as the original notice) in the final 3 solicitation packs for the year (fall campaign in September, holiday in November and year-end in December)

These messages let donors know that the June campaign results were lower than goal and explained the impact of the reduced revenue on the hospital staff and patients and restated the additional giving options (phone, personal pickup and online.)

Why am I so confident about this approach?

Because it worked.

Not one of my clients had year-on-year revenue reductions in 2011.  And the client that continued the message for the balance of the calendar year?  They had a record holiday campaign (the campaign that raises 45% of their entire DM annual revenue in a program that mails seven times per year), a record that still stands.

The key is to move forward thoughtfully and purposefully and be ready to make any needed adjustments.  You’ll sleep better at night, be ready to seize opportunities to successfully engage your donors and deepen your relationship with them.


FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION, visit Canada Post’s update page.


Do you have any comments or an idea on how to survive a postal strike during the crucial holiday fundraising season?  Share them here, or you can Email or call David (toll-free in North America on 1-800-991-3318 x101 or on our New Zealand freephone 0800 995 054). 

And that, folks, is how it’s done

Last night, I received an email from the Canadian Red Cross with the subject line:

An important update on your donation

I was dreading what I would find inside.  Not because I thought there would be some kind of awful update.  Or that I expect terribly poor communications from Red Cross.  It’s just my Pavlovian response to a lot of terrible ‘updates on my donations’ from so many charities.

Well, there was no reason for my click-cringe.

I had just received a very nice, succinct, personal and even a bit emotive email from the incredibly impressive Conrad Sauvé, President & CEO of the Canadian Red Cross.  It arrived a week after I made my donation online, which is fantastic, especially given the enormous pressure the entire Canadian Red Cross staff is under, dealing with the Fort McMurray fire and subsequent disaster response.

The beginning of the closing line was especially awesome: “From the bottom of my heart, I thank you…”

If you’re looking for a great template for an easy update for your donors after an important event, or even (knock-on-wood, it’s unnecessary) an emergency, click here to see this excellent example of donor communications.

Now, because, I’m me, I just can’t help but suggest 2 small improvements as you file it away for your template.  First, personalize the email with the donor name.  Second, offer just a little more information about the scope of Canadian support.

Of course, easy for me to comment from the comfort of my office chair, with the luxury of not having to attend to the incredible workload that the dedicated Red Cross staff and volunteers are currently faced with.

Do you have any comments or ideas on spectacular donor communications?  Share them here, or you can Email or call David (toll-free in North America on 1-800-991-3318 x101 or on our New Zealand freephone 0800 995 054). 


One Man’s Junk…

A few weeks back I had coffee with a former client.  She’s a great fundraiser that has a knack for connecting donors with their passions.

She’s one of my favourite people. Not the least because she always has a great story to share. This Friday morning coffee was no exception.

We only had a few minutes together before I had to head off to my next visit on my whirlwind trip through the Canadian prairies.  Once we caught each other up on some of the more mundane stuff, Cynthia* excitedly launched into a story about a donor.

She had gone to visit an elderly fella who had just moved into a long-term care facility.  He had just made a very significant gift of $50,000…in response to a direct mail letter.

He’s a loyal donor, giving for more than 10 years, but always less than $1000!  But if you can believe it, this is not my favourite part of the story.

The part that really got me sporting a wide smile happened when Cynthia went to visit the donor.

This gentleman had just gone through his over 80-years worth of accumulated possessions, leaving behind almost everything so he could squeeze into his very small long-term care quarters.

He had settled in by the time Cynthia arrived. She noticed that in the sparsely furnished and tidy small space he had brought only a few personal items.  But over in a neat stack on his little desk, was every single letter her charity had mailed him.

Of course I was happy to learn that many in that neat stack were packages my team and I had created.

But much more important is the perfect evidence about how critically meaningful good donor communications can be for those who receive it.

That put a wide goofy grin on my face for the rest of my whirlwind trip.


[*I’ve changed Cynthia’s name to respect her request for anonymity.]


Would you like to make your donors cherish every communication from your organisation?  Fundraising Pharmacy can help.  Email or call David (toll-free in North America on 1-800-991-3318 x101 or on our New Zealand freephone 0800 995 054) today for free, no obligation advice. 

Maximizing your #GivingTuesday investment.

The 25, 30 and 50 minute plans.

Is your inbox filling up with #GivingTuesday appeals today?

Yeah, mine too.

And I have mixed feelings.

On the positive side I recognize the opportunity to engage some of the general public that hear our message and move them to support charities.  That’s a good thing, for sure.

But I also am concerned….There are two negatives from where I sit.

First, a lot of (very limited) charity resources are often bet on these campaigns, hoping for magic beans.  And as usually is the case, at best, only regular beans are harvested.

Don’t get me wrong. All new donors are good.  But, the same resources used for #GivingTuesday campaigns can often be deployed more effectively.  Imagine the impact a well planned, executed and funded donor retention strategy would make at your organization…or a strategy for identifying and acquiring a targeted group of potentially passionate supporters.

This is the biggie for me.  So often we chase the shiny new thing at the expense of investing in the fundamentals of solid donor relationships.

The other drawback I see is a lack of planning to welcome our new friends and working to ‘convert’ #GivingTuesday donors into ongoing contributors.  And to me that adds up to a missed opportunity at best and a waste of precious resources at worst.

An optimistic curmudgeon

OK, so I may be a curmudgeon, but I’m an optimistic curmudgeon.

The good news is that no matter where your #GivingTuesday campaign is sitting right now, you can take a few simple steps to maximize your return on the time, energy and money invested in these campaigns.


The 25-minute plan

While your flawlessly executed #GivingTuesday campaign is rolling forward today, take 25 minutes and sketch out a plan for the donors your acquire.  Here are a few things you can do that have almost no cost and are easy to execute:

  1. Write a fantastic thank you email.  One that is genuine, personal and emotional.
  2. Find a colleague or volunteer that will help you do some thank you calls to every newly acquired #GivingTuesday donor.
  3. Grab a stash of your organizations’ generic thank you cards from the supply closet and go ask your CEO to start hand-singing them while also handwriting a simple “Thank you for joining our donor family” one line message.  Send these to every donor that responds to your #GivingTuesday campaign.

Add 5 more minutes

If you start to see a huge spike in donations (if you’re like me you’ll be obsessively checking the results every few minutes!), take an extra 5 minutes to find a board member or senior volunteer who can help with those handwritten thank yous.

The 50-minute plan

If you can spare 20 more minutes, sketch out your new donor’s journey through the first year.  Ask things like:

  1. What’s the next message they will receive from us?  Solicitation?  Or Stewardship?
  2. Can I segment my solicitation campaigns to include variable copy for this special group?
  3. Can I feature one of these new #GivingTuesday donors in my donor newsletter?
  4. What should I say to these donors leading up to #GivingTuesday 2016?

Every minute you can invest in building your relationship with your new #GivingTuesday donors will offer a big return on donor retention and lifetime value.  And, it can be a welcome distraction while you wait on the next #GivingTuesday results update.


Would you like to make all your new donors fall in love with your organization?  Fundraising Pharmacy can help you build and execute a plan that is guaranteed to create donor chemistry.  Email or call David (toll-free in North America on 1-800-991-3318 x101 or on our New Zealand freephone 0800 995 054) today for free, no obligation advice. 

Writing to Humans

an OTG guest post by Sheena Greer

Ever read something and think “was this written by aliens? Or robots? Or robot aliens?”

I feel this way a lot.

Especially when I comb over fundraising appeals that arrive in my mailbox. Certainly, I’m more critical than your average person, but my guess is that if an appeal fills me with disappointment, it’s having a much more devastating effect on the broader audience.


Apathy is the social sector’s biggest enemy. There are many reasons why people are apathetic, but the root cause is very fixable.

In his TedTalk “Redefining Apathy”, Dave Meslin suggests that people want to do great things, but we live in a world that actively discourages engagement.

How so? Poor communication. On purpose. Or accidentally.

Instead of engaging humans in their own language, we engage them with the language of a machine.

Organisations are machines. Not unlike robots.

I hope your organisation is a well-oiled machine (as opposed to a rusted-out old boat.) Imagine this. Your board is fantastic. Your ED is superb. Your staff is delivering the best possible programs to the community you serve. And the community is way better for it.


The only problem? You’re severely under-funded.

The machine needs fuel. It needs the hearts and minds (and dollars!) of humans to keep it moving.

“Our programs are so awesome! Why aren’t people giving?” This is something I hear quite a bit from people working on the front lines. “Our mission so important…our work is improving and saving lives!”

The problem is that the language we use when speaking with donors and others in the community is far too similar to the language we use internally.  The effect of this ‘loss in translation’?  Apathy.

So how do we write for humans? It isn’t too hard, but there are some basic concepts you need to keep in mind.

1)     Know your audience. And “general public” isn’t an acceptable answer. There are individuals in the world who are going to care deeply about your cause, and there are individuals who simply won’t.

You need to get to know the former and cut your losses on the latter.

We often view “preaching to the choir” as negative. But the choir is your audience, along with the parishioners, and even people straggling in the foyer.  These iare the people you need to focus on activating and keeping activated. The passersby on the street likely won’t be converting anytime soon.

2)     Kill the royal we.  One of the biggest mistakes an organisation can make is to talk too much about itself.  And too much is usually a lot less than many of us think.  So, how do you inform and show impact without doing this?

Make it about the royal you.  Tell donors that the wonderful things you are accomplishing is all because of them.  You will connect to their hearts.  Invite them to share their dreams for change.  They will commit to make them come true.

“Because of you, Samantha was able to finish school.”

“You can imagine how incredible it feels to be told you are cancer-free.”

“You made all of this possible.”

3)     Use plain language. Plain language isn’t “dumbing things down.” It communicates your message in a simple and powerful way.

No jargon.  No rambling.  No bullshit.

“It has come to the attention of management that an excess in ultra contemporary diminutive humanoid garments for lower body extremities has unfortunately resulted in increased pressure to downsize due to inadequate performance.”


Plain language gets to the point and, as my old creative writing prof used to say, “goes for the jugular!”

“For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.”

4)     Don’t be afraid of emotion.  Embrace it and don’t let it go!  The work we’re doing is emotional! We see the darkest parts of humanity. We also witness miracles.

It isn’t just about joy and pain. What about humour? Curiosity? Surprise? Sorrow? Frustration? Courage?

Go ahead.  Stir up emotions in your audience. Humans feel. And when humans feel deeply, change is made.

5)     Ask and be clear. All too often, we can forget to include a call to action. We can’t be afraid to ask people directly for what we want – whether it’s a fundraising appeal asking for dollars or a Facebook post requesting volunteers for an event. Using vague statements like “we need your support” is meaningless.

6)     Communication is best when it’s one-on-one. We can’t always sit face to face with our donors, but we need to mimic this in our communications. No “Dear friends” or even “Dear Supporter.” No “Sincerely, The entire board of this organisation” signatories.

Think of a wonderful personal letter (or email) you’ve received.

I love you and I’m your number one fan. Your mom and I are so proud of you!
Love ya Beans,


Dear child,
We appreciate you and your continued efforts towards excellence.
Management of the Miller Family.

Which note do you think made me tear up when I read it?

7)     Tell a story. Humans have evolved to tell stories. We haven’t evolved to comb through statistics and facts and dry, boring reports. Robots LOVE numbers and statistics.  So send those to your robot overlords.

Stories are for humans. Their brains are hard-wired for them.  Tell your stories to your humans!

8)     Say what you need to say – no more, no less. Likely, we could go on and on about our organisations. We think that much of what happens in the day to day of it all is important. And it is – internally.

Here’s a surefire formula for success.  Choose your topic well, tell a great story filled with emotion, use plain language and clearly ask for a donation.  That’s it, you’re done.  Don’t force it.  Cramming too much into a 2 page letter, or trying to fill the dead space of a not-quite 4 page letter will end in heartache – for you, and your reader.

This is a first of several guest blog posts from some of our very favourite fundraisers and people-who-work-with fundraisers.  Sheena Greer from is an ass-kicking do-gooder and committed charity communications professional.  You can reach her directly by email or phone (306-230-1951).

And if you enjoy this post, just imagine how much donor chemistry a colludo/FundraisingPharmacy mashup could create for your charity.  Email or call David (toll-free in North America on 1-800-991-3318 x101 or on our New Zealand freephone 0800 995 054) today for free, no obligation advice. 

Are you treating your Monthly Donors like cherished family members?

Monthly donors (aka regular givers) are incredibly valuable to your charity, so it’s critical to roll out the welcome mat and make them feel like cherished members of your family.  That starts with exceptional stewardship right from the beginning of the relationship.

Stewardship starts by having a rock-solid gift-fulfillment process.  By managing this pivotal detail, you show from day one that you care about the donor’s gift and are trustworthy and well-organised.

Next you should do everything in your power to make sure the donor is thanked as soon as possible, and in the most personal way.  A thank you telephone call within 48 hours of the gift is the gold standard.  It’s also a fantastic way to verify donor details.  (But this call shouldn’t replace a written thank you…you literally cannot say thank you too much or too often).

Then, within a week, send an emotionally engaging and personal New Donor Welcome Package (NDWP) by post (even for online donors).  While you should have an NDWP for all of your new donors, make sure the package for your monthly donors is a little more special.  You can start simply by investing time in a live signature and a handwritten note.

Finally, send an email follow-up a week or so after the first gift has been processed so you can check-in with your new monthly donor.  Ask them if they’ve received the NDWP and have any questions.  You’ll reinforce that you genuinely care and it’s also a nice way to lead them into your monthly donor communications schedule for the balance of the year.

The ultimate goal for your welcome process is to make your new donor feel like they’ve made a good investment with their commitment to a monthly gift for your organisation. 

Do you need some help creating chemistry with monthly donors?  Email or call David (toll-free in North America on 1-800-991-3318 x101 or on our New Zealand freephone 0800 995 054) today for free, no obligation advice. 

This is taking forever!

(and other online giving utterances)

Have you been waiting for the moment your charity’s online giving revenue will zoom past direct mail and all the other dinosaur fundraising tactics?

Please, for the sake of your health and your very survival, do not hold your breath.

I’ve been waiting the golden era of online giving for 15 years.  The fundraising equivalent to flying cars, robot maids and all inclusive vacations on Venus, à la the Jetsons.

A couple of weeks ago a person researching this question for a well-respected fundraising industry journal asked me why Online Giving is still such a small piece of the revenue pie for most charities and whether there were any solutions for charities to change this.

I must have scared her away with my answer because I never did her back from her.

I guess that’s because the more I thought about it, the more the premise concerned me…and, OK,  the crankier I became.  Also, the floodgates may have opened a little.

Give or take, here’s my response:

Donors aren’t ‘direct mail donors’ or ‘telephone donors’ or ‘street-fundraising donors’ or ‘digital/online donors’.  They’re just donors.  Reduced even further…they aren’t donors, they’re people.

We ascribe these labels to people based on a narrow set of behaviours.  That worked better (though I’d argue, still not that well) in the past when we were taking about limited communications channels being available to the vast majority of people who may choose to give to charity.  Right now, people are or rapidly becoming multi-channel.

My mom writes me letters, but also calls me every week and definitely wants to Skype if it’s been longer than a few weeks between visits.  My sister texts me most days, sends an email with links to the holiday rental she wants me to look at, calls me from her car (hands free of course) while running errands, will Facebook message my wife to ask about a new favourite recipe but mostly wants to get together in person to cook amazing food and drink good wine.  My uncle prefers this method of arranging family outings: I send him a text, he responds by calling me…OK, so maybe my family is a little (OK a lot) strange.

But the point here is we are seeing this behaviour with people who donate to charity.  Some recent shocking research showed GenX (my generation) donors were highly mail responsive.  I found this shocking, since it’s certainly not true for me personally (which is more than a little ironic) or anyone in my immediate circle of similar (middle, sadly) age.

The twist is the response was primarily through online giving (so bonus tip…keep mailing GenX and older donors and make sure you make it easy to respond online).

And we’ve seen this behaviour before, with strong integrated Annual Giving programs that used the phone to boost results of direct mail campaigns.  I did some extensive testing a little over 10 years ago to integrate email follow-ups to boost direct mail campaign results and still use these findings today (including regular re-testing to make sure it’s still working).

So, the first part of my answer is that we may not see online giving portals as the primary vehicle for gifts for some time.  But it has a very important role to support giving (and donor relationships) in general.  This is my feeling about social media, too.

Now there are some exceptions.  I think the use of online tools for peer-to-peer (especially mobile apps) fundraising events (like walks/runs/bike/challenge events) is really the standard for most organisations raising significant funds this way.  The same goes for Special event/silent auction type events.

Online will also continue to grow as we get better at digital acquisition, but the most effective digital acquisition campaigns still need telephone conversion calls for the final step.

We all WANT online to be IT right now, because it seems easy and inexpensive.  It’s our natural (though irrational) desire as a sector to always be looking for the magic bullet, our charitable version of the ‘get rich quick’ scheme.

The reality is that fundraising is most effective when a charity effective and genuinely communicates with people in a personal and emotive way, no matter the medium used to inspire the donor.

Charities do well when they connect to donors’ deeply held values and demonstrate that their gifts will/have an impact on the issues they care about most.  This is not easy to do.

In the annual giving world, we have had a lot of practice doing this with older media like print.  We’ve had two or three of generations of professional experience with this.  We’ve been able to take many lessons from for-profit sector marketing research and apply it to things like direct mail.

When it comes to digital media, we’re still figuring it out.  Let’s not forget that Google’s revenue (and the revenue that Facebook and Twitter and others are trying to capture) is still based on little ads, primarily text and some simple static images (and usually no image at all) that appear in a margin on a screen.

The lesson in that is humans that look at screens are not much different than humans that look at paper or at the TV or that speak on the phone.

The issue with online or digital fundraising is that we think the magic is in the medium, when really it’s the message that’s important (sorry, Marshall, old chap).

Compare a typical email solicitation to a typical direct mail letter.  Most emails I see are very short, have no emotional or personal content and are very organisation-focussed.  These sins are compounded by firing these emails out constantly to the same person in a year without much thought or strategy.  And when a person miraculously decides to act on these uninspired and rather clunky solicitations, they are often greeted with an unpleasant online donation process that feels just as warm and caring as ordering knock-off inkjet replacement cartridges.

And people who choose to give chiefly through online channels often receive very poor stewardship, usually much worse than that of a direct mail, face-to-face or telephone donor.

Maybe they get added to a (usually terrible) monthly eNewsletter that offers multiple photos of giant novelty-sized cheques handed over by local car dealership owners or announcements about the new board president that reads more like a CV than an explanation of why she/he is passionate about dedicating their precious personal time to the cause.

All of this is because the entire online giving program in many, many charities is too often the result a fundraiser’s boss (or a very enthusiastic board member) who decided ‘We should do online giving!’ without fixing what ails the other fundraising programs and/or devoting the appropriate planning, staff and resources.

So please:

1.  Get started.  Integrated giving is more important than ever to maximise revenue.

2.  Put relationships first.  Great communication creates great results, no matter the tool a donor eventually uses to to make their gift.  The corollary is that crap communications create crap results…yes, even if you have your very own mobile app!

3.  Be Persuasive. The secret to fantastic fundraising results? Inspire and people to give to a cause they care passionately about.  Then make it easy (read convenient) to make a donation.

4.  Be Patient.  Online/digital is rapidly growing and it will eventually become a much more significant piece of the fundraising pie.  It will just take time.


Do you need some help creating donor chemistry online?  Call David toll-free in North America on 1-800-991-3318 x101 (or on our New Zealand freephone 0800 995 054) today for free, no obligation advice. 

One simple step to create healthy donor relationships.


None of Your Business - image for blog
Does your charity direct donors to call a toll-free or auto-attendant line instead of a real person who can help?  Or do you invite donors to email on your Planned Giving webpages?  If so, this is what you are really saying to donors desperately trying to connect to a human being at your organization.


There is one powerfully simple way you can instantly begin creating healthy, effective and rewarding long-term donor relationships:

Ensure your donors can easily find the name, phone number and email address of a real live person that can help them with an inquiry, complaint, compliment or even a donation.  Then invite them to use this information.  Invite them to call, email or pop by.  For any reason.

Next, make sure this information is everywhere your donors’ eyes are…thank you letters, direct mail reply/donation forms, annual report, newsletter, brochures and on every single page of your website.


  • Donors won’t just figure it out.
  • It speaks volumes that your organization is thoughtful and takes donor relationships seriously.
  • Most donors will never call, email or pop in, but there’s a comfort and trust factor knowing that they can.
  • You will create a culture shift to focus on donor needs and service.
  • You will build loyalty and loyal donors are incredibly valuable (monthly, midmost and bequest donors usually start as loyal donors).

The simplicity of this gesture belies its power.

It can deliver millions to your organization long term.

Take a few minutes now and find the places you can make this change quickly and easily. Then take a few more minutes tomorrow to make sure it happens.  You’ll be prepared to really maximize that massive effort you’re putting into your fundraising this busy holiday season.

It’s an incredibly effective way you can show your donors the respect and love they deserve.

Do you need some more ideas on creating donor chemistry?  Call David toll-free in North America on 1-800-991-3318 x101 (or on our New Zealand freephone 0800 995 054) today for free, no obligation advice. 

This post was originally prepared for the AFP Toronto Congress 2014 blog and can also be viewed by clicking here.

One is the loneliest number.

When it comes to direct mail fundraising, it’s also the most unrewarding.

One of the questions I get asked most frequently when speaking at conferences or Fundraising Pharmacy training sessions is why I always recommend multiple mailings in a year.  It’s not just people I meet who are new to direct mail or fundraising who ask.  It’s a question that many seasoned fundraisers ask, too.

Effectively their queries boil down to this:

“Why not just send one highly effective and efficient appeal each year and be done with it?”

Seems like a great idea at first blush.  We’d save staff time, mailing costs (and those pesky project consulting fees).

But years of testing and data analysis tell us that the most effective approach is more involved.  Why?  Well, when it comes right down to it, it’s because we are working with humans.

It’s difficult to get people’s attention, even loyal donors.

This is both good news and bad news.

First, the bad news…donors aren’t always paying attention to what we send them in the mail.  And not every appeal theme or issue appeals to all donors.  This is the “Right Ask at the right time” mantra that direct marketers live by.  We have to send multiple appeals with multiple offers in order to capture as many people’s interest as possible.

And as Liz Rejman at Museum London also emphasized in a recent discussion on this very topic, “sometimes when we ask, it may not be a good time for a donor to make a gift or they may intend to donate and forget.”

Liz is bang on.  Like a lot of things in life, timing is key!  And since we can’t possibly time a single appeal to work for every single donor, sending multiple appeals is the best way to maximise your revenue and (even more important) maximise the number of donors that will stay current.

Now here’s the good news…

It’s actually a good thing that the one-perfect-mail-piece doesn’t exist.  Because what we’ve learned over the years is that many donors will make more than one gift in a year.  It stands to reason.  They are passionate about the work you do…you share multiple ways their gifts can make a difference… some donors will decide to help more than once.

In fact, most organisations with mature direct marketing programs see an average of 1.3 gifts/donor/year.

This is very good, not just for the extra revenue from those 0.3 gifts, but also because the donors that send more than one gift in a year are a very valuable segment.  They tend to be more loyal, more receptive to upgrading their giving, more likely to become monthly donors and much more likely to name your charity in their will.

Like so many things with direct mail and direct marketing fundraising, what at first appears to be inefficiency is actually an investment in the overall donor relationship and the attendant increase in fundraising revenue over the lifetime of your donors.

You can rest assured that sending multiple direct mail solicitations every year will help you raise the most funds in both the short and long term.  Just make sure you add at least one or two stewardship pieces to keep donors informed and in love.  And also put processes in place to ensure donor preferences can be honoured (IE: for donors who wish to receive only one solicitation mailing per year).

What’s your optimum direct mail appeal number?  Are you boosting the effectiveness of each mail appeal with email, social media, the telephone and personal visits?  Call David toll-free 1-800-991-3318 x101 today for a free assessment. 

From idiot to trusted friend in 13 sentences.

Recently our team was working with a client that had some issues with their database and accuracy of their records.

Sound familiar?

There were a group of contacts that only had business information and addresses, but no contact name information.  Many of these donors had given 5 and even 6 figure gifts.

Together, we decided that waiting until the data was perfect or avoiding a solicitation of these donors was not an acceptable solution.  We put our heads together and came up with an idea:

Why not just be up front about the deficiencies in the records and ask donors to help us fix it?

This is the kind of stuff that people love to help with.

So, together we wrote a very simple, direct and honest letter that explained that we were rather embarrassed to be missing key information about such a loyal and generous donor.  Next, we asked the donor to share 3 pieces of information (name, phone number and email) at the bottom of the page and pop it in the postage paid return envelope along with their kind gift.

The client printed the letter themselves, along with the simple update form, all on a single sheet of letterhead (at a cost of less than a penny per note) and added it into the unsealed packages we had returned after processing at the mailhouse.

Easy, inexpensive and personal.

I almost wish we had more records with missing information, so we could make more use of this highly engaging approach.

I know we worry about looking unprofessional or *gurk* incompetent in front of donors.  But the reality is these kinds of errors exist and most people understand, especially if you are upfront and honest about it.

Try this approach next time you run into a mistake.  I guarantee this is one donor engagement idea that will make Mom proud!