Is Direct Mail Fund Raising Right for Me?
If you and your Board are seriously considering a direct mail fund raising program, ask yourself the following three questions. Be honest with yourself. Unless you can confidently answer "Yes" to each question, you had better think twice before you proceed with a direct mail fund raising program.
Are you prepared to make a personal commitment to making the fund raising effort a success? Signers, testimonials, case studies, and research will become your responsibility. If you're not prepared to put the time and effort into making the program work, maybe you had better re-think using direct mail to raise funds.
- Patience & Investment?
Do you have the patience and time needed to let the direct mail fund raising process succeed? Direct mail can provide a solid funding base for a nonprofit organization, but it takes time to work. Direct mail is not an instant money machine. First, a donor file must be built and that takes time, often as long as six to nine months. In the meantime, patience is required as funds are plowed back into building your donor base. Expect your donor acquisition appeals to lose money. There are exceptions, but plan on the rule, not the exception. If you are impatient, perhaps you should consider a different plan of action.
- Techniques & Copywriting?
Are you prepared to stand back and let us do our job? Are you willing to limit your input to matters of factual research, organization policy, and law? Are you willing to use "command response" techniques that have a track record of success? Are you willing to sign off on fund appeals that contain words, grammar and sentence structure that differ from your personal taste? Are you prepared to resist the urge to make copy changes just for the sake of putting your personal mark on the fund appeal? Each time, your answer had better be a loud "Yes!" if you want your direct mail fund raiser to work. Unless your appeals use techniques that "command" a response and use emotional, "now-or-never" phrases that rely on everyday words, don't expect them to succeed. It's not going to happen.
If you have given a positive emphatic "Yes!" to these three questions then there's a high probability that you are a good candidate for direct mail fund raising. And if you have answered "Yes" to the four questions under Keys to Success, then your organization has a good chance of success using direct mail.