Why fundraisers send those annoying address labels

Interesting discussion on re:charity, at Why Do Charities Send Address Labels and 4 More Thoughts.

Labels

It started when a Canadian lawyer kvetched about getting address-label mailings from nonprofits. He makes the common error almost everyone makes about address labels in fundraising: He thinks if he doesn’t care for them they are a failing tactic being used stupidly.

I can’t vouch for all fundraisers. Some may be using labels in stupid, wasteful ways. But not the fundraisers I know.

Address labels are a legitimate way to raise funds. They work. They don’t work exactly the way other types of mailings work — but if you do them right, they can be part of a growing fundraising program. They aren’t for everyone, but they might be for you.

The fact that you don’t mail stuff any more and thus don’t need address labels tells you nothing about the efficacy of address labels.

Here’s what they do:


  • They boost response.
  • They decrease average gift.

In other words, they tilt the volume/value balance toward volume: More donors, but of lower value. And that can be just fine. I know several organizations that have co-controls in their direct-mail donor acquisition programs: A labels package that generates volume, and a non-labels package that generates value. These are often sent to two different list categories to maximize the favorable balance.

We’ll talk tomorrow about whether or not you should consider address labels (or other freemiums). But don’t let the “I don’t like them” fallacy be your guide.


Comments

4 responses to “Why fundraisers send those annoying address labels”

  1. Jeff Nickel Avatar
    Jeff Nickel

    I’m convinced more than ever before that the #1 reason labels work is that donors see their names over and over again. The donor’s name is the sweetest sound in their own mind. And the #2 reason is simply the utilitarian value of return labels — people, donors — still use the postal system.

  2. Jeff Nickel Avatar
    Jeff Nickel

    I’m convinced more than ever before that the #1 reason labels work is that donors see their names over and over again. The donor’s name is the sweetest sound in their own mind. And the #2 reason is simply the utilitarian value of return labels — people, donors — still use the postal system.

  3. I think fundraisers should give supporters a clear and easy way to “opt-out” of future address label mailings. There’s really no reason to keep annoying people if those people don’t want to be annoyed.
    Giving the donor the choice to opt-out is donor-centric and shows that the charity cares about what people think. By not providing this option, it basically says, “We don’t care if we annoy you.”
    I wonder if anyone has ever done this.

  4. I think fundraisers should give supporters a clear and easy way to “opt-out” of future address label mailings. There’s really no reason to keep annoying people if those people don’t want to be annoyed.
    Giving the donor the choice to opt-out is donor-centric and shows that the charity cares about what people think. By not providing this option, it basically says, “We don’t care if we annoy you.”
    I wonder if anyone has ever done this.

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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.