Are address labels going to kill you?

To hear some people talk about it (including some recent ill-considered survey research), you might think raising funds by means of premiums is just about the dumbest, most self-destructive thing you could do.

Most people who have actually done it will beg to differ, as in this post from the Integrated Direct Marketing blog: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Premium.

Turns out it’s usually not stupid or self-destructive. The average gift is usually lower, but not that much. Premium acquired donors often need no further premiums to keep on giving. In general, it’s almost all good news:

The premium also allowed us to mail into new lists that we had not been able to make work with a non-premium offer. We did see a decreased life-time-value as we pushed further into new markets, but the trade off was well worth it since we were able to acquire thousands of new members who were previously unreachable.

I’ve worked with organizations that seemed to suffer terribly from premium addiction: Their donors gave tiny gifts and only responded to premium mailings. Retention was terrible. If they stopped using premiums, their numbers got even worse.

But here’s the thing: Their real problem wasn’t premiums, it was their steadfast refusal to be relevant to their donors. They only talked about their cause in the most general and abstract terms, because they didn’t want to be limited by specificity or even imply that gifts would be used for anything in particular. They basically acted like they hated and feared their donors.

Premiums were probably the only thing keeping them alive. And just barely.

Much more often, I’ve seen smart, relevant, donor-loving organizations use premiums as one useful tool in their donor acquisition toolbox. And it worked just fine.

Don’t fall for the anti-premium hysteria. Test it for yourself. There’s a good chance you’ll see the light. And the revenue.


Comments

4 responses to “Are address labels going to kill you?”

  1. Christabel Bremner Avatar
    Christabel Bremner

    I use address labels and I like to support my charity by using their labels, but I prefer the greeting cards, especially the birthday cards. I use these for the residents of nursing homes and retirement homes. Families seem to forget that these people still have and celebrate their birthdays and like the acknowledgment. I even solicit my friends for their cards.
    I use almost 400 at Christmas so people know they have a friend outside of the institution.

  2. Christabel Bremner Avatar
    Christabel Bremner

    I use address labels and I like to support my charity by using their labels, but I prefer the greeting cards, especially the birthday cards. I use these for the residents of nursing homes and retirement homes. Families seem to forget that these people still have and celebrate their birthdays and like the acknowledgment. I even solicit my friends for their cards.
    I use almost 400 at Christmas so people know they have a friend outside of the institution.

  3. Thanks for sharing this idea. I know it’s not been new to me but i am glad you also shared this. Good job! and Keep it up!

  4. Thanks for sharing this idea. I know it’s not been new to me but i am glad you also shared this. Good job! and Keep it up!

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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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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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