End-of-Year Nonprofit Appeals: One Key Area Where Printers Can Help
Nonprofit customers depend so much on their end-of-year donation campaigns that it’s hard to overstate just how crucial this time of year is. And there’s some pretty compelling numbers to illustrate just what I’m talking about:
Almost a one-third of nonprofit donations happen in December
First-time donations made in December are 52% larger than those made at other times of the year
Half of nonprofits get the majority of their donations from October to December
The last three days of the year account for 12% of all nonprofit donations
(Source: Winspire )
At my company, we recommend our nonprofit customers already have a solid plan in place that they’re actually implementing by September.
In other words, their campaigns should be in full swing, not necessarily in actual donor outreach but certainly in developing their campaign components — the letters, postcards, emails, web pages, etc.
If they’re behind, like, way behind, they’ll need to do some serious prioritizing and simplifying when it comes to the tactics they’re going to use. (For example, maybe they should do a self-contained mailer rather than a multi-piece effort.)
And if they have to go into rush mode because of poor planning, especially on their direct mail pieces, that can unfortunately increase their costs for a number of reasons .
On the other hand, nonprofits — whether in rush mode or not — have a lot of opportunities to save costs, spend smarter, and be much more strategic with their direct mail year-end appeals.
And guess who’s in a unique position to not just provide a service during this critical time — but also offer some helpful insights?
What You Can Do: Straight-Talk on Nonprofit Mailing Lists
Throughout the year and especially for their end-year-campaigns, your nonprofit customers understandably put a lot of time into what they’re going to say in their outreach materials.
But isn’t it just as important to consider who they’re saying it to? I’m talking specifically about their mailing lists.
Having been in this business for decades, I’d have to say our nonprofit customers’ mailing lists and distribution strategies consistently present us with a chance to really add value to their customer experience.
No, we obviously can’t control what they’re ultimately going to do on their end. But at the very least, we can bring up some key points when it comes to their mailings lists. Here are some of the most important ones:
Just Having a List is Not Necessarily Enough
I’ve heard it too many times over the years: “We’ve got the list!” Nonprofit customers tell me they’re all set with their mailing list, often just using the same one from the previous year.
But because they’re dealing with so many people and parts as they move their year-end campaign forward, that mailing list may not get the scrutiny it deserves.
And even if nonprofits are behind the 8-ball on their year-end push and are cutting a few corners, their mailing lists shouldn’t be part of that.
As their printer, you want to find a way to get them rethinking those lists by asking basic questions like these:
How long has it been since the list was updated?
Who didn’t respond at all last year?
Is it still worth the investment to include them?
Point out that they could actually be wasting a lot of money on print orders that are too big.
And if they do indeed take a closer look at that list, they may actually realize the need to expand and/or retarget their lists. The good news about that is the increasing sophistication that printers have today as mailing lists specialists .
Mailing Lists Should Really be Segmented
Your nonprofit customers should avoid doing a blanket approach with their touches. In other words, their direct mailings (and emails for that matter) should to some degree be segmented and personalized. Here are a couple of basic ways to divide that list up strategically.
Who gave last year?
Nonprofit customers should consider sending prior donors an appeal that includes a message acknowledging the past giving and reflects the nonprofit’s appreciation.
What amounts are they using in their requests?
Nonprofits often include suggested giving levels on their mailers. Have they put serious strategy into the amounts they’re listing? Should everyone on the mailing list get the same piece with the same amounts listed?
How much did they give?
For high-dollar donors, you may want to invest the time and money to create a personalized appeal that details how their donation was used and includes a message directly from someone at your nonprofit. This obviously will take more time to develop, but it could really be worth it for them.
So ... How Did You Do?
Phew! That’s a totally understandable reaction when the year-end campaign is actually done.
But before their year-end campaigns become a hazy memory, maybe we as printers could check in to see how they did. What were the results from your direct mailing efforts? What worked great? What didn’t?
In other words, remind them of the valuable data that can be mined to gain metrics — metrics that can help them make smarter decisions when they begin planning their next year-end appeal.
And what happens when your nonprofit customers feel like they have a true advisor on their side, one that does more than just print materials? I’m thinking they’ll be much more likely to return to you for an even better end-of-year campaign next year.
About the Author
Chris Yuhasz founded POV Solution as a basement desktop publishing business 27 years ago in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Today, POV solutions provides printing services from Cleveland, Ohio , servicing clients coast-to-coast with commercial printing , graphic design, and spot UV printing for finishing services.