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Top 3 Things to Do This Summer Before Mailing Your Next Appeal

“…‘Tis the season to be jolly… fa la la la la, la la la—what?!”

You may be familiar with the term “Christmas in July,” but in June? Yes, June… ‘tis the start of the summer season sneaking around the corner. Which means if you’re a nonprofit, it’s time to start strategizing about your year-end APPEAL now.

Running your appeal season from September through January may seem overwhelming, but getting a head start will reduce a significant amount of effort in the long-run and will position your organization in the best way possible to maximize your “donorability*” – the ability to effectively attract, nurture, and retain your loyal donors.

It’s never too early to dust off your holiday ornaments. That is, placing your mental and marketing mindset into the giving season early by doing these top three things before you mail your next appeal…

1) Connect Your Cause to Your Calendar & Their Hearts
The critical time of year for your organization may not only be the holiday giving season.

Are there other annual celebrations, local events, milestones, or holidays that have a relevant connection to your organization?

Donating money is an emotional decision. Captivating your audience with a relevant connection will likely cause them to be more generous.

Consider these prevalent questions during your next brainstorming session:

• How will you boost responses by using ENVELOPE teasers and reply devices? [See the interesting article, “Increase Direct Mail Response Rates with 7 Engaging Envelope Design Tips” for helpful ideas.]
• How will you reach those who didn’t respond the first time by creating a provocative follow-up piece?
• How will you personalize HOLIDAY CARDS that are reflective of the work you do in special appreciation of your existing donor base?

3) Clean-Up & Segment Your Mailing Lists with DATA VISION
Time for an audit of one of your most important assets—your mailing list!

Help minimize the recent postage rate increase and save unnecessary postage costs by tidying up those inaccurate mailing addresses. According to a US Postal Service report in May 2015, about 40% of people who move do not report their new address. Insufficient addresses based on spelling or direction accounts for 48% of attributable errors.

Consistently applying the changes and updates as provided by your mailing services company will help you reduce undeliverable mail.

Not everyone on your year-end appeal mailing list falls into the category of a core donor. Consider smaller mailings to thank the infrequent donors for their support, describe how their gift helped, and invite them to give again.

Dividing your donors into smaller subgroups will be helpful when targeting the right message to the right donor, at the right time, to achieve the kind of ROI you’re expecting.

Consider how you’re going to communicate with these segmented groups:

Lapsed Donors
Establish a point where a current donor becomes a “lapsed donor” and a “lapsed donor” becomes a “former donor.” Use a “we miss you” type of message.

Monthly Donors
Keep them on your list! Consistent thanks and asks still work well for this group. Always keep the opportunity and reason to give right in front of them. Also have a consistent follow-up plan in place to cover communications such as: upgrades, renewals, cancellations, tax summaries, and credit card expiration or payment suspension sustainers, etc.

At some point, these donors gave—yet they’ve given only once. Think of inspiring ways to tell your story which motivates them to respond again.

Email Donors
An effective digital online strategy is essential for this group. Map out the entire donation process and test appropriately.

Recognize their gift of time and ask them to consider also giving monetarily.

A renewal mailing doesn’t make sense for this group, so acknowledging their connection to your cause and inviting them to develop a relationship with your organization with a monetary gift is best.

By the end of this summer, you’ll be more at ease and closer to your campaign goals.

Sing along now, “…Follow me in merry measure… While I tell of fundraising treasure… fa la la la la, la la, la, la!”

Need further help with your appeal or mailing database? Give us a call at (520) 571-1114.

*donorability – A rare term with which the definition is described by the author herself, using her creative license to do so. The term is also used by Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon, authors of the article, “10 Cool Ways to Use Board Members to Up Your ‘Donorability.’”

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