Have you ever tasted an oven baked, piping hot triangular pizza? They are yummy – and not at all different to the good ol’ fashioned round pizza. Only the shape is different – but we have become so familiar to the round pizza we don’t think they can come in any other ways.
The same analogy applies to how we see the purpose of direct mail in fundraising – in the last decade we have done direct mail fundraising in certain ways, going for expanding our charity’s share in the donor marketplace and many of us have been reasonably successful and some even excelled at the task.
But the marketplace is changing, a new reality is emerging and if we are to reduce the attrition rates of direct debit givers and one off donors we should be prepared to move into unchartered territories with a new paradigm for direct mail fundraising.
So, here are a few things to think about as you prepare your charity’s response to the new reality:
If the future of direct mail fundraising is not so much about recruiting as many donors as you can, as it is encouraging donors to stay involved with your cause over a long period of time – what would you do?
What strategies would you put in place to encourage long term donor participation and involvement in your work?
In my opinion, in the next three to five years:
• For most charities, retention strategies will become more critical than prospecting strategies as competition becomes even more intense.
• Donor dialogue and feedback are going to have to become the indispensable marketing tools you use to assist your direct mail efforts.
As a consequence, we will need to ask donors for collaboration with what we are doing through panels and focus groups so that shared interests are developed. In the current climate we can’t afford to mail in the dark and hope for response.
• A new factor that is likely to impact the performance of direct mail is the quality of your relationships with donors in addition to extraordinary donor care services. What kind of relationships do you have with your charity’s donors right now? – If you were in their shoes, trying to balance your household budget– would you continue to give to your charity? – Why?
The best way to find out is to pick up the phone and call a random sample of donors and ask them: what makes them support your work? – Jot down their responses and make sure you incorporate them in your next appeal.
Please feel free to comment on what you are doing to respond to the new reality?