In a previous post here, I discussed a few things in our direct mail world that have changed very significantly since I founded LDMI in 1987. Now I want to address two dimensions of the profession we share that look pretty much the same in 2017 as they did in 1987. And I suspect you’ll agree with me about the importance of these hardy perennials.
You remember 1987: the year of “Black Monday,” when the stock market lost over 22% of its value in a few hours ... Prozac went on sale in the U.S. ... we all became aware of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Baker ... Robert Bork was Borked by a cabal of Senatorial midgets led by Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden ... and Lawrence Direct Marketing, Inc. was born.
This blog was originally published in May of 2016. Because of the interest in the topic we've decided to republish it here.
All non-profits have to develop strong fundraising campaigns. And like it or not, direct mail is still the key to a good fundraising campaign. Social media seems cheap and easy, but it remains a tiny portion of non-profit's revenue.
One of the first questions many non-profits ask when starting a Direct Mail campaign is, “How long should the letter be?” Those of us who have been in the business for decades know two things.
I have been in the Direct Response business for over 40 years and have reviewed many clients thank you direct mail programs. More than I can recall I have discovered that either they did not have a “Thank You” program at all (especially for small gifts) or they had a very generic, impersonal Thank You. These “thank you’s” either failed to mention the program that the donor was supporting or even forgot to mention the donor’s name. Sending a prompt and personal “Thank You” letter for every donation is essential in non-profit direct mail fundraising and donor conversion.
At some point, all non-profit organizations ask how to get donations to continue funding their important work. Despite its long running proven track record, Direct Mail programs incite a sense of fear for many non-profits. (Yes, direct mail is still king.)
They think receiving a fundraising letter is something their donors will find annoying and will ultimately result in the donor distancing themselves from the organization. But this is not the case..Direct Mail is the best, most efficient way for non-profits to raise funds for their organization and keep their donors up-to-date on their important work.
In today’s challenging economy, many people are strapped for cash. The tight purses don’t just apply to individuals, though. Many non-profits are strapped financially, especially when they first start up. As The Atlantic said recently “There’s no doubt that non-profits today face serious financial difficulties and constraints...” There's usually a very small group of people - three or four - who do everything that the organization needs to do. They all work 15 hours a day and they're exhausted after their first year on the job.
When newer non-profits finally get to the point where their organization can effectively be championed and supported through direct mail, many people must decide whether it is better to handle the direct mail in house or hire someone to manage their direct mail program. Chances are they are going to be better off finding a direct response company to create and/or stabilize their fundraising efforts.
Direct Mail Solutions
The simplest definition of Direct Response Marketing is – “the use of a variety of different media to get a response back from the persons being targeted”.
It could be a direct mail campaign, an email campaign, a newspaper ad with a coupon, a telemarketing call or a search-engine fundraising campaign for non-profits. So it's a variety of different media but all with the intent of getting a measurable response.
And when a company like LDMI reports results from a campaign to one of our non-profit clients, we're reporting actual numbers and actual responses. We're not taking a guess at what impact this effort has, we know its impact because we tabulate the responses.