Think Bigger

      People want to be part of things greater than themselves

      It’s human nature.  All people want to be part of a team, group, tribe, or community.  Everyone on earth, and even those above it (looking at you, International Space Station), have an inherent human yearning to belong to something greater than they are alone.  It’s a key component to the human equation. The philosopher Aristotle aptly defined this as: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

      Remember this as a you craft your imagery and messaging. We all want to be part of something; show your donors how to become part of you and your mission, ask for their suggestions, and constantly provide them the opportunity to be kept in the loop, on their own time.  Show them how we are all one big team working towards a Common Vision.

      While we are talking about this, donors like to support causes way bigger themselves.  Don’t be afraid of launching a big need or asking for big, big help.  Your goal should be to get people caught up in a vision larger than themselves.

      Consider this: everyone wakes up, goes to work, feeds themselves, finds enjoyment, and plays.  Rinse and repeat.  Add kids and grandkids.  We all have a routine; it’s the humdrum, the stuff of life.  Frame the need as an escape, as a super human feat, like an epic super hero in a story larger than life. 

      Are you a super hero to someone?  Why?

      Til we meet again,


3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Current Donor Direct Mail Campaigns

  1. Balance your touchpoints

The easiest fix to unsuccessful direct mail campaigns is the number of touchpoints.  If you send too much mail, you will lose donors because they get overwhelmed.  But if you don’t send enough, your donors will forget about you and your cause.  It’s a fine line we all have to walk.  We recommend mailing 3-6 times a year. 

Now hold on.  I know that sounds scary.  Think about it this way: four mailers a year is one mail piece per quarter; six mailers a year is one mail piece every other month.  Not too bad if you break it down that way.

No all of those 3-6 mailers should be great pieces.  Try mailing one or two nice pieces and supplement with simpler ones.  It’s helpful to mix up pieces.  Send a letter now and an oversized postcard next time.  You don’t exactly want to keep donors guessing (everyone values consistency), but make it interesting.  If your mail always looks the same, it’s much easier to ignore.  Donors might think they know what’s inside already. 

2. Print in full color

Direct mail typically gets about 5% response rate from current donors.  That means that for every 100 letters you send out, only five people will respond.  It might sound bleak, but it’s actually pretty good.  (If you want to talk about acquisition mail campaigns, then that’s a totally different story.  Check out our blog post on that here.)

How can you improve that?  Targeted 1:1 mail pieces do 50% better.  The response rate increases by 135% with personalized, full-color pieces.  If you add sophisticated data to that—for example, the exact amount that each person donated last year—the response rate increases by 500%.  

In other words, the devil’s in the data.

3. Manage + segment your database

73% of firms aspire to be data-driven, but only 29% actually are.  So how can you join that 29%? Managing your donor database is the first step.  You have to keep updated lists.  Frequently purge duplicates, long-lapsed donors, deaths, and opt-outs. 

You really have to know your donors.  But when you have thousands of them, it’s not so easy.  Consider attaching a survey to your next mail piece and ask for mail/communication preferences.  The trick here is to remember to update your lists accordingly.  You can also train your staff that answer phones to ask questions about communication preferences. 

Segmented lists drive data mail.  For example, monthly donors should be handled and thanked differently than once-annual donors, and both different from tax donors. You can organize your donors by gift amount and then funnel them into sections.  Then treat those donors differently. 

The most commonly used monetary segments: $0-99, $100-249, $250-499, $500-999, and $1000.  But there’s also tax givers, monthly donors, once-annual donors, cause donors, fundraisers, and event-based donors. 

Caution: It’s easy to delve too deep and lose your mind.  Data isn’t the same as knowledge.  Before you create 1,000 different categories, try organizing by monthly, annual, and tax givers.  Handle that data well before you move forward with monetary segments.   

*data provided by The Ultimate List of Charitable Giving Statistics,

Donor Retention

     Financial circumstances change and you lose a donor.  What do you do?  Let him go; there’s more where he came from?  Fight to get him back?  Nothing?

     Not all situations are cut-and-dry.  We all know the marketing-101 adages, but sometimes a review is good to put them in context.

     More than half of new donors leave after giving once and never return.  Retention is always cheaper than acquisition.  Most of the time, you’re going to want to go back to that same donor and try to win back his loyalty.  You’ve already cultivated the relationship with him; you have a history.  Whether he’s ticked off because of something you did or because of circumstances in his life, you want to keep that relationship going, even if it means he becomes a lapse-donor for a few years.  Don’t burn bridges if you don’t have to.

    Authentic content is what keeps donors engaged.  It’s what makes them stick around.  Get rid of the idea of business transactions and start thinking of donations as gifts, as steps in a relationship.  If you think of it as a relationship with your donors, you’ll end up with better ideas than kitchy collateral and dry stories.  Share your story with them.  Make them feel valued.  Their contribution matters, not just to you, but to those you represent.

     Donors can get tired of always hearing requests for money.  Gifts don’t always have to be monetary.  Some donors want to feel valued by being a part of something and seeing tangible results. They’re interested in your cause—that’s why they donate. 

     We can help you build a community around your donors, keep them around, and keep your organization funded.  Well-planned campaigns are essential to donor retention.  We’ve got you covered. 

    For more information, check out Ziggy’s tour on Donor Retention!

Marketing and Other Cash Flow Tools

    Have you ever been stuck in a budget-deficit rut?  When an organization’s profits or fundraising comes up a little short, money for operations has to come from somewhere – usually a nonessential department.  Marketing is often that first budget cut, apparently easily replaceable with free social media.

    While not as important as feeding the hungry or sheltering the homeless, marketing is far from nonessential, when you think of marketing as a tool to help you manage and increase your cash flow.

    Marketing connects you with the community.  It’s how you attract volunteers, as well as donors, investors, and partners.  Good marketing can help you sell your organization’s mission to the community and build that annual campaign. 

    However, good marketing necessitates proper budget planning.  If you cut the marketing budget, or don’t plan well for it in the first place, you will undercut and undervalue your own mission.  It’s technically possible to replace paid marketing with free social media, but that rarely happens. Even if you stick to just social media, you can easily get sucked into paying to promote your posts and your pages.

    Don’t replace good marketing with social media.  Spend your time focused on your mission – helping others – and let the marketing experts at N4P plan your campaign and produce your collateral, while you watch your donor base grow and grow.

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