Good news . . . direct mail still works and works well. Research shows that people are still comfortable and likely to continue making contributions through the mail. Like any development strategy, direct mail shouldn’t be used alone but rather as one channel of a multi-channel strategy.

To write effective appeal letters you only have to write a personal letter to every person in your database tailored to their interests, reflective of their relationship with you, at an appropriate interval based on their preferences, and asking them for an appropriate amount. It’s that simple!

Okay, it’s not simple but it is possible to write to your supporters in a way that says you know who they are. When crafting the strategy for each appeal, appropriate buckets must be created that effectively group your supporters together as much as possible.

But be careful what you ask of your computer. Sending an appeal to everyone who’s given one gift in a particular year isn’t enough because that might put a first-time donor in the same bucket with a long-time donor who has given one gift this year, but this happens to be their 10th year supporting your cause.

The same is true with thank you letters. A thank you letter that doesn’t recognize a donor’s first gift and welcome them to the family is a missed opportunity to begin a relationship. A thank you letter that acknowledges this is a donor’s third gift in six months says that the organization recognizes and appreciates donors who are providing the backbone of their support.

AuthorCraig Smith