Fundraising letters are about
as personal as you can get with a donor without meeting face to
face or talking on the phone. Unlike special events, fundraising
letters let you have a one-on-one “meeting” with each donor.
2. Can be passed along
visits, phone calls and special events, fundraising letters can
reproduce themselves. Your appeal on paper has the opportunity
to reach more than one donor, potentially doubling or tripling
your efforts. Member-Get-A-Member letters are a perfect example
of this dynamic at work.
3. Can be tested
Because you can measure
your direct mail results, you can also test your mailings. Test
one package against another, one list against another, one ask
against another, and you’ll discover what works and what fails.
That way you’ll spend your dollars where they are most effective
(without relying on guess work or hunches).
4. Measurable ROI
Direct mail is one of
the best mediums for measuring the return on your investment.
Simply code your reply cards, and count how many return to you
in the mail with a gift. With fundraising letters, you can know
immediately–and exactly–how effective your mailing has been.
Direct mail numbers never lie. Some simple calculations will
tell you the following:
- Your response count (number of donors who responded)
- Your response rate (percentage of donors who
- Average gift
- Gross income (before
expenses are deducted)
- Net income (what’s left after
expenses are deducted)
- Cost to raise a dollar
Unlike capital campaigns, major
gift campaigns and special events, fundraising letter campaigns
can be conceived, planned and launched within weeks instead of
months. Results (donations) are just as quick, usually arriving
within days of your mailing.
6. Build your base of support
majority of non-profit organizations receive 80 percent of their
income from individuals. Since the average gift sent through the
mail by an individual is $35, you need a broad base of
individual donor support for your existence. You will want to
attract gifts from foundations, businesses and government,
certainly, but for long-term survival you need to build a large
following of individual supporters who send you small gifts year
after year. The most cost-effective way to build and sustain
this base of support is a comprehensive, well-planned,
well-executed, annual fundraising letter program.
7. Strengthen relationships
campaigns and banquets are excellent ways to raise awareness and
funds, but they are costly and time-consuming. You cannot run
one every month. And you cannot rely on them to strengthen the
relationships you have with your supporters. Fundraising letters
and donor communications (such as newsletters), on the other
hand, are cost-effective ways to build credibility, increase
trust, inform donors and build relationships with your donors
8. Reach donors anytime
telemarketing campaign to be effective, your donors have to be
near their phone. For your annual golf tournament to be
profitable, your donors have to meet you at the green. With a
major gift campaign, your calendar and your donor’s calendar
must have the same day free or you will never meet. With
fundraising letters, all you need to know is that your donor
still lives at the address you have in your database. You don’t
have to mail at the right time of day to catch them at home, or
invite donors to meet you at their mailbox. All you need to do
is mail your appeal package to a valid address and then let the
donor read (and respond to) your letter at their convenience.