Within the fundraising community, we recognise that the most potent means of enhancing the return on investment (ROI) for direct mail appeals hinges upon elevating engagement. When your appeal pack strikes a chord with a donor, forging a connection with the cause and imparting the sense that they are making a tangible impact, it invariably prompts them to contribute.
However, augmenting the engagement of your appeal pack need not necessitate extravagant expenditures. Straying from your initial objective by inflating the cost per pack could detrimentally affect your ROI. There exist cost-effective approaches to bolstering the appeal packs’ impact and inspiring donors, and these can be achieved through the latest advancements in print technology and data intelligence.
Here, we present five considerations for your upcoming appeal pack:
1. Personalise Your Letter
It is imperative that the donor perceives a direct conversation with them. Personalise your letter to convey an understanding of their individuality and gratitude for their support. With precise data and digital printing technology, you can extend personalisation beyond mere salutations. Employ variable printing to incorporate specific details in your letter, such as the donor’s recent contribution and its impact. Alternatively, use information gleaned from prior donor surveys to infuse an extra layer of personalization into your appeal letters. Here are some examples:
- “We extend our heartfelt gratitude for your recent gift of <$60>. Your generous donation has significantly contributed to…”
- “We recognise your deep commitment to [cause], and that’s why we are reaching out to you today, seeking your support.”
2. Extend Personalisation Across the Pack
Do not confine personalisation solely to your letter. Leverage intelligent matching and digital print technology to enable your mail house partner to harmonise multiple personalised elements within each pack. This cost-effective approach imparts a more personalised touch to generic lift pieces. For instance:
- Personalise and pre-fill response forms and express appreciation to the donor by name for their contribution.
- Include the donor’s name on lift elements, such as headlines or personalised “hand-written” sticky notes.
- Consider personalising the reply-paid envelope, exemplifying it as “A gift from [donor name] to support…”
Moreover, personalisation can extend to visual elements, allowing the appearance and feel of your pack to vary across your donor base. For instance, if you have a refined brand identity tailored to high-value donors, you can customise imagery accordingly. You may even personalise imagery to depict causes or initiatives the donor has previously supported, such as providing an update on a sponsored child or the impact of a donor-funded assistance dog. Essentially, your donor data can steer digital print variables to make the pack feel uniquely crafted for each donor.
3. Diversify Lift Formats
For your appeal letter, the crafting of your content is paramount, and this is where fundraising copywriters truly shine. The letter should resonate with the donor, inspiring them and guiding them on a journey culminating in their donation. If the letter primarily revolves around textual content, your lift elements are where visuals and creative ideas come to life. Given the availability of contemporary digital print technology, you can produce high-quality lift pieces without exceeding your budget. Lift items such as scrapbooks, journals, and photo albums serve as excellent means to convey your story visually. Providing donors with a keepsake or a small gift has been proven to elevate the average gift value. Therefore, contemplate personalized address labels, pens, and slim notepads, among various other options.
4. Tailor Pack Versions Based on Donor Value
While premium lift elements are appealing, utilising them for donors whose average gift may only be $30 per appeal could inflate your cost per pack, detrimentally impacting ROI. Employing premium lifts for high-value and possibly mid-value donors is more likely to elevate engagement where it matters most—among donors with greater capacity to give.
Segment your donor base into lower value, mid-value, and high-value donors based on their average gift. Typically, this calculation spans the previous 12 months, but there exist diverse methods to determine average gift and to delineate low, mid, and high-value donors. The specific approach depends on your organisation’s unique circumstances.
5. Vary the Number of Lifts
The general principle dictates that incorporating more lift elements in your appeal pack leads to higher average gift values. To ascertain if this holds true for your organization, consider split testing across segments, where donors receive 3, 4, or 5 lift elements. Through campaign analysis, you can subsequently monitor cost per pack and average gift to ascertain whether increasing the number of lift elements positively influenced ROI.
Furthermore, adopting a similar approach as outlined in point 4, enhancing the number of lifts for mid and high-value donors may constitute an optimal utilisation of your budget. Always contemplate how your lift elements will be inserted into the envelope, and collaborate with your mail house to ensure that the outer envelope does not become overly packed, potentially hindering the insertion process.