Our agency is thrilled to acknowledge that a control package we created for our client Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) won the FundRaising Success Magazine Gold Award for “Grand Control of the Year”. The control package was mailed for more than three years as part of UCS’s member acquisition efforts. Our team designed the package internally and our copywriter was Barry Cox. The front of the outer envelope shows Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, and a single line of copy: “It’s time to clear the air…” The four-page letter identifies these culprits as “filling the airwaves with outright distortions every day about the reality of climate change.” A fact sheet inside the mail package provide a comparison of pundit statements with scientific facts and positions taken by UCS. The order form in the package includes a petition call-to-action addressed to Fox News Channel CEO Rupert Murdoch, asking him to correct the mistakes being made by his celebrity hosts identified on the outer envelope. The package also includes premiums (name and address labels and a book as a back-end fulfillment) which helped to lift fundraising response. UCS Membership Director John Mace is quoted in the article that: “The offer of the book premium, at a $35 gift level, serves to increase our average gift. We’ve seen the book serve to increase our membership retention/renewal rates; new members who sign up at the $35-plus level and receive the book have a higher renewal rate.” We invite you to read the full article on the FundRaising Success website. Dan Doyle is the President and Creative Director of Mal Warwick | Donordigital.
At Mal Warwick | Donordigital, we have had the opportunity over nearly two decades to work with hundreds of groups and causes across the country. We’re proud of our record in using that extensive experience to benefit our clients. We also believe that what we’ve learned can benefit other organizations. Our approach to direct mail fundraising is based on the conviction that donors are intelligent, sophisticated, and discerning. Donors understand much more about the fundraising process than they are usually given credit for. Further, we believe direct mail fundraising is a potent vehicle for public education. Our own research as well as data gathered by others suggest that for a great many Americans, fundraising letters are a vital source of information. Because donors are intelligent and compassionate, they respond to:
- direct mail packages that accurately reflect an organization’s mission and program … are accessible to readers … and strive to be attractive and striking in design.
- frequent opportunities to support those organizations they believe in — with less frequent mailings for those who are less responsive or who have requested they be approached only once or twice a year.
- invitations to increase their impact by giving larger gifts — because we know donors who make larger gifts are more loyal and are more likely to make additional gifts.
- thank you letters and expressions of appreciation in appeal letters, annual reports, and other mailings.
- highly personalized packages that communicate courtesy and consideration, and use excellent graphic design and high-quality printing.
- List selection. This is by far the most important ingredient we can control. Call it 25% of the recipe, or about as much as all the other controllable elements combined. The most brilliant appeal for the most dynamic organization in the world won’t work if it’s mailed to the wrong lists.
- The “offer.” Next is how the request for funds is structured: what you ask for, and what you tell donors they’ll receive in exchange. Call it 10% of the total picture. Every mailing must be built around a central creative concept — a clear and powerful connection between the “offer” (or request for gift) and the donors.
- Copywriting. The actual wording of your appeal may account for 5% of the total picture. Most direct mail experts consider the letter itself to be the single most important element in a direct mail package. The outer envelope, response device, and all other package elements should reinforce the central concept of your appeal.
- Format. The size, shape, and color of the envelope … the character of the inserts … and the extent of personalization may all have significant bearing on the results. The right format choices can be as important as the copy — about 5% of the total. Everything in a direct mail package must fit together to form an effective whole.
- Design. Once the format is set, the designer’s skill with type, color, and placement can have an equal (5%) influence on the outcome.
- Membership Acquisition. Prospect letters are mailed every two to four months — in successively larger quantities until the optimal level has been reached.
- Donor Acknowledgment. New members or donors receive a “welcome package” full of information about the organization — and about the benefits and services available to them.
- Membership Renewal. Every year (on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly cycle — depending on the size of a membership base), a series of membership renewal notices is sent out. Initially, if numbers are small, the series consists of as few as three written notices. Eventually, it may consist of as many as ten efforts. This same structure of mailings has proved effective for annual fund programs.
- Special Appeals. Every six or eight weeks, members or donors receive a request for additional support on the basis of some special project or special need. The first of these appeals goes out as soon as the number of members is large enough to warrant it.
- Membership Newsletter. We recommend that your members or donors receive a newsletter or other informative publication at least four times a year.