Don’t let a direct-mail emergency throttle your year-end fundraising

The biggest (and for some, the only) fundraising season of the year is just around the corner.

If you rely on direct mail, I have what could be very scary news:

Printers and mailhouses, like many businesses, are contending with supply-chain problems, shortages, and labor shortages.

And that could be a big problem for you.

Imagine your November and December revenue drying up because you couldn’t get your mail produced and out the door.

It could happen. It has happened. The results could be devastating.

The problems vary from region to region, and from printer to printer, so you may not run into it at all.

But be prepared.

If you haven’t started your year-end direct mail, start now. Honestly, it’s already on the late side to start, but now is better than later, and might make all the difference.

Check in with your printer. Tell them what you’re planning to do, when, the quantities you will be sending, and specifications you are hoping to use. Find out if they are able to do what you want.

They might not be able to. But it would be better to find out now than at the last minute.

Be flexible:

  • Your printer might need more time than usual. Maybe you can still hit your target mail date by sending them files sooner than you have before.
  • You might not be able to mail on your preferred dates. See if you can find a workable alternate date.
  • Be willing to negotiate on specs. The issue I’ve run into several times this season is problems sourcing envelopes. I haven’t been able to get the envelopes I want quite a few times. Find out what’s available. (And if you find out the only envelopes available are boring old #10 white-wove, it’s not the end of the world. They can work just fine.)

Be ready for higher costs than you’ve seen before. Prices are up.

Ultimately, you might need to switch vendors this year. That may be a frightening prospect, but the sooner you know, the more precautions you can take.

Good luck! I hope you don’t suffer any expensive surprises.


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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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