Two steps to direct mail fundraising success

If you want to get direct mail fundraising right, there are two things you especially must get right:

The call to action, or offer

Donors don’t give to themes or campaigns. They give to offers. If you don’t know exactly what you want your reader to do, you’re in trouble before you start. What particular amount (or choice of amounts) do you want? For what specific purpose? When? Why? Put it in writing before you do anything else.

The envelope

The most critical decision every donor or prospect makes about your direct mail is whether or not to open it. There’s evidence (though we can’t really know for sure) that the large majority of direct mail envelopes go into the recycle bin unopened. On the other hand, once the mail is opened, you are well on your way to earning a gift. If I had to pick one almost sure-fire approach to the envelope, I’d go with a blank envelope. Blank envelopes win in tests considerably more often than they lose. (But great copy and design will always beat a blank.)


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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