Viken wants the nonprofit world to know: He is not (and never will be) a planned giving expert. He is a planned giving marketing expert. For over 20 years Viken has been helping nonprofits learn to leave CRUTs and CRATs to the attorneys and focus on making planned giving simple and accessible to their donors.
If you have been in the fundraising industry for a while, you probably remember a time when planned giving newsletters were a surefire way to connect with donors. While the majority of people still prefer direct mail as a form of communication over e-mail, the popularity of planned giving newsletters has dwindled. Planned giving newsletters can still be a useful tool, but they must be sent with a clear strategy.
Here are 6 considerations:
Identify Your Target Audience
It is futile to send out newsletters en masse, only for half (or more!) to end up in the recycling bin. Analyze your data to see who is or isn’t engaged, and then you can remove the non-responsive contacts from the list. If you end up removing most of your contact list, don’t panic. You have just narrowed it down to people who have expressed interest and are highly engaged with your newsletters. Removing the dead weight from your mailing list will save a lot of money, as well as environmental waste. After cleaning up your list, you can conduct a survey that questions the preferred contact method of each donor. You can further target your mailing list and transfer anyone who prefers e-mail to another list.
Enhance the Experience
Since you have now cut significant upfront mailing costs, perhaps you could splurge on better-quality paper or envelopes. Anything that enhances the receiver’s experience and enjoyment of getting your fundraising newsletter when it arrives will increase the likelihood they will respond. Engaging the senses in your mailing can prove to be highly effective. Everyone knows how nice it is to crack open a fresh notebook and receiving a high-quality letter can evoke the same feeling. One of the basic marketing fundamentals is to improve your branding. A cohesive, sleek, modern design of your newsletter will improve the receiver’s level of connection. Do your planned giving newsletters look professional or do they look like someone designed them in Microsoft Paint?
Personalize the Content
Another step that can help boost the response to your fundraising mail responses is to highly personalize your content. People really enjoy a personal touch and feel appreciative of receiving a birthday card or acknowledgment of a milestone. If your mailing list is fairly small, using a large, high-quality envelope with a handwritten mailing address is a nice touch. Every time the donor receives a fundraising newsletter, it is another touchpoint on the path to a major donation.
Nobody likes to receive another piece of mail filled with fluff. Ensure that you are sending planned giving newsletters that contain valuable information or evoke an emotional reaction from the receiver. Storytelling is so important in nonprofits, and planned giving newsletters are the optimal way to utilize it. Since planned giving newsletters are filled with both images and text, you can use both to tell the success story of one of your program participants. If your organization is working on a new initiative, this is a fantastic way to highlight the work that is yet to be done but make mention of your current progress.
Using your planned giving newsletters as a way to highlight specific contributors is a great way to show recognition and strengthen individual relationships with long-term donors.
Once you have implemented a new strategy for your planned giving newsletters, it is important to collect data. Did your response rate improve? If so, keep on going because your strategy is a winner. If you still aren’t hitting expected targets, it may be time to consult an expert.
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