Even with all the instant, electronic, airborne communication available, direct mail (DM) still works, and it looks as though it will keep working for a while.
It was with that in mind that Don Rhoten of MMC Foundation discussed running a successful DM program while at the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) International Conference on Fundraising. Rhoten said it depends on being aware of the following:
- Roles and responsibilities. Understand roles before the mailing: writer, designer, envelope stuffers or mailing house, editor(s). Understand roles after the mailing: donation processing, database management, thank-you letters, follow-up phone calls.
- Timeline. Set a timeline for each piece, before the year begins.
- Theme. Prior to any designing or writing, develop a theme that is Simple, Compelling, Memorable. The theme is carried throughout all the pieces and into the writing.
- Brand. Every piece should have a consistent color palette, font style, imagery, writing style, etc. This includes the mailing envelope, letterhead, response card, response envelope, premium.
- Understanding the audience. Conquer the database, collect and maintain personal (appropriate) information, learn Microsoft Excel.
- Being thoughtful in the writing. Be cautious of the “strategy cloud.” Focus on the donor and the mission. Avoid inflammatory language. Remember that the donor always comes first. Be genuine, considerate and thoughtful.
- Remember: You aren’t raising money, you are engaging and connecting with people. These people are donors.