The more lifts, the better the fundraising results

Lift Monday: A series about the art and science of “Lifts” in direct mail fundraising.

Liftmonday

In direct mail, longer letters work better. It’s not 100% — but it’s close. As close to a guarantee as you’ll find in direct response.

It may be hard to believe. In fact, it’s so hard to believe, I talk to people frequently who are absolutely the “longer is better” rule is some kind of scam. Even though every expert you ask about it will confirm the truth of it.

I bring it up because there’s a similar truth that is also hard to believe. It’s this:

Adding extra things to a fundraising direct mail pack improves response. And the more you add, the better the improvement.

Weird, yes. But dependable.

The highest number of lifts in a pack I helped create was 11:

  • A sheet of personalized address labels.
  • A 6-page booklet showing photos and descriptions of the offer.
  • A small 12-month wall calendar (a separate page for each month).
  • A bookmark (on cardstock).
  • A bumpersticker.
  • 2 holiday greeting cards.
  • 2 envelopes for the greeting cards.
  • 2 Christmas Tree ornaments (on cardstock)

This was a donor acquisition mailing. And it worked wonders for several years.

In theory, you could keep adding lifts all day, and each one would boost response. There’s just one limit to that: Each lift adds cost to the pack, and at some point, you might price the project out of reach of success — great response, but at too high a cost.

I’d think twice (or more) about using this many lifts in most US direct mail campaigns. But I would consider at least some of them.

You should too.

Any time you go to the effort of creating a direct mail fundraising piece, you should think about adding at least one lift piece to it.

Your non-fundraising colleagues and your board members will likely hate it when you add lifts. They’ll say it contributes to the junk-mail look of your direct mail.

Maybe it does. But it works.

Your donors don’t give a rip about that “direct mail look.” They care about being able to make the world a better place.

And lifts can help them see that more clearly.

Read the other Lift Monday posts


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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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