How donor management software can facilitate direct mail design

Donor management software allows for easy implementation and execution of direct mail appeals, which are among the most important tools of donor engagement. It might seem as though direct mail appeals are a relic of the past, replaced by websites and mobile apps as the sole vehicles for staying connected with supporters. But putting direct mailers on the back burner is a critical mistake.

Connecting personally
Our current tech-focused climate makes it easy to overlook stamps and envelope but it's important to remember that  tangible correspondence plays a role in facilitating relationships between charitable organizations and their supporters. It's not just that a piece can't be automatically filtered to a spam folder. There is simply no substitute for the immediate, human connection provided by a physical piece of mail.

Donor relationships are strengthened with direct mail. Direct mail remains an important step toward lasting donor relationships.

Direct mail is for everyone
Given this notion, it becomes less surprising that snail mail reaches all age groups, said Fundraising IP. No matter the demographic of a potential donor base, everyone responds well to personal connection. Further, those who already donate are usually quick to respond to direct mail renewal notices.

For organizations that are new to the practice, here's a refresher on using direct mail to support the core mission:

Mailers won't break the bank
It's understandable that an organization might fear the expense, but it's a myth that direct mail is a costly endeavor. CRM manages mail and guards against sending extraneous or repetitive correspondence. In other words, it's a data management tool that cuts the cost of paper waste.

"Data management tools cut the cost of paper waste."

Organizations can eliminate return postage from their budgets. Instead, the mailer should include a prompt for its recipient to donate online. The goal of personal connection is reached when the mailbox is first opened – there is no need for a support to send a return card.

The promise of a free gift is not required, according to The NonProfit Times' Richard H. Levy, who also cautions against sending a gift before a potential supporter makes a donation. In doing so, organizations risk losing money on overhead. Further, the strategy of obliging gift recipients to donate is not likely to be effective more than once. Some organizations might find that gifts are necessary for donor retention – donation software analytics tools are a great way to determine the efficacy of offering material tokens of thanks.

Design details
Nonprofits can achieve more than enough flash in their mailers through the use of multiple colors on a single sheet of lightweight paper. Investing in ink keeps postage and printing costs at a minimum.

Effective content
Print only the necessary copy. From a practical standpoint, paring down words will save on production costs. A minimalist approach to copy will also build the shortest path between reading the mail and donating to the cause. It only takes two to three sentences to convey a clear mission, goal and need. Add a fourth sentence demonstrating an example of an organization's accomplishments, and that's all the information necessary to make a donation decision.

A picture of a free gift is useful but even more important are proofread instructions for how to give. The website donation link should appear in font larger than the accompanying text.

Give wisely
Gift-giving can prove to be a solid strategy but it's not necessary to be an expensive one. A gift does not need to come in the form of an object, reminded Fundraising IP.  Coupons for charity events not only show sincere thanks, they gather an audience and provide further opportunity for support.

Hand-scripted thank you letters cost little more than a postage stamp but are incredibly effective in telling supporters how much they matter.