Fundraising: Direct Mail
There are two types of direct mail solicitation - prospecting, or sending mail to a list that has never contributed to you before, and re-solicitation, which is used to generate income from people who have given to you before. An effective direct mail plan will help develop a reliable list of donors for your campaign that you can go back to multiple times.
Building your list of direct mail donors, or prospecting, simply means sending a fundraising mailing to a list that has never contributed to you before. On average, prospecting will only yield a return of 1-2%; production and mailing costs will often reach 100% of your revenue.
Is it Worth the Cost?
Yes. Prospecting is not about raising money outright, it's about identifying new donors who can be re-solicited in the future, usually multiple times.
Prospects who become donors should be solicited at least three times throughout your campaign. Re-solicitation mailings generally yield a return of 5-10% and will cost approximately 10-20% of your revenue.
What Should it Look Like?
Prospecting: Appealing enough to engage a first-time donor. Re-solicitation: More personal, always thanking them for their past support.
Don't Forget to Plan
It's important to note that you should plan for any mailing to take a full six weeks to reach their full yield.
Tips for Prospecting
- Make sure you have a good list from a state party or allied organization; you will be more likely to get a better yield.
- Ask for a specific contribution early on and repeat several times throughout.
- Keep paragraphs short and use conversational language.
- Use underlining, italics and bold type to underscore key points.
- Reiterate your message and appeal to the interests and emotions of your prospects.
- Be specific with your ask and when describing how funds will be used.
- Use a compelling P.S. under your signature; it is the most frequently read part of the letter.
- Personalize letters by crossing out the typed salutation and handwriting the first name to donors you know; writing a very short personal note at the close; and hand-signing letters.
- Attract readers by printing an urgent message on the outer envelope.
- Include a "credentializer" such as a news clip or list of endorsements to lend credibility.
- Include a response envelope and donor card to make responding as easy for the donor as possible.