- Choose a list of direct mail-responsive individuals who appear to have the capacity to give much larger than typical direct mail gifts. (Those who have responded to direct mail solicitations with gifts of between $100 and $999 in the recent past are likely to work best.)
- Take great pains to ensure that the list you use is as clean as possible. Have someone edit it manually, record by record, to minimize duplication, garbled spelling, or other obvious errors.
- Develop a marketing concept that is genuinely suitable for that target group. Don’t just try to repackage a small-donor appeal: you need a convincing reason why donors should send you $1,000 checks. Often, a $1,000 giving club will work well. Occasionally, it will suffice to cite the special urgency of an appeal (“There’s not enough time to raise these funds in the usual ways”) or a conveniently round budget figure (“We need 30 donors of $1,000 each”).
- Ask only for a large amount – at least $250 – and don’t offer lower options. As an inducement to give the specified amount, a distinctive back-end premium – such as an autographed book or a videotape – may be appropriate.
- Design a personalized package that will be dramatically different from your previous appeals to those in the High-Dollar target group: in size, in format, and in the character or scope of its contents. (Generally, oversized packages – in 7-1/2 x 10-1/2″ or 9 x 12″ envelopes – will work best.)
- Produce a package of quality commensurate with the level of attention you are demanding and the depth of the commitment you’re asking for. This means high quality stock and, usually, at least two- or three-color printing. It may also mean enclosing an insert that is costly to produce.
- Mail exclusively via first class postage, preferably using commemorative stamps. Affix first class stamps to the reply envelope.
- Don’t limit your imagination – or your budget – to the mails alone. To resolicit your very best donors, think about ways to bring your appeal to life with a dramatic premium … a phone call from an important or famous person … a personal visit … or some combination of imaginative elements.
by Guest Author Roger Craver In an ABC News piece not long ago entitled “Secret Donor,” Diane Sawyer told an absolutely charming and moving story about a Lake Forest College alumna named Grace Groner. Ms. Groner died in January at age 100 and left the College $7 million. According to Lake Forest’s President, the College never had a clue. For fundraisers, this is also a cautionary tale about over-reliance on traditional methods of screening, which depends on just what information is available, whether it’s helpful or not. Had Ms. Groner’s name passed through a traditional wealth screening process, the search would have drawn a blank. Because 80% of most wealth screening depends on real estate values, Ms. Groner’s modest home valued at $152,356 would have drawn little attention. And certainly there would be no SEC insider shareholder information, because Ms. Groner owned three shares of Abbott Labs, purchased in 1935 at $60 a share—today worth $7 million! But, as Tom Belford and I have preached over and over in our blog, often mega-gifts spring from the well of loyal, year-after-year giving regardless of the size of those loyal gifts. Bingo! I went into the DonorTrends TrueGivers database and found that indeed Ms. Groner was a loyal donor to a variety of causes in her community. Here’s a slice of the record that may have tipped off a fundraiser or researcher focused on alumnae with loyal giving habits: The generosity and loyalty of Grace Groner is more than a beautiful and moving story. It should serve as a reminder to all of us that actual giving, loyal giving, more than artificially induced “screening” using massive databases of unrelated information, can help find the needles in the haystack. Reprinted with permission from The Agitator.