8 reasons your direct mail appeal didn’t work (Part 1)
By Wayne Gurley
1. You mailed to the wrong audience.
Your mailing list is the single most important element for success in any direct mail appeal. A letter that might have worked gangbusters for some other organization may fail miserably for yours.
At the risk of sounding obvious, your active donors are your best audience for a direct mail appeal. Next best is lapsed donors (those who haven’t given in at least a year).
Keep in mind that the further you get in time from a donor’s last gift, the worse your response will be. With most of our clients, we can’t go out much past five years from the date of a donor’s last gift.
Ideally, you’re going to want to acquire new donors while you’re going to the effort of preparing a direct mail appeal. So your prospects should be more than just “suspects.”
A good prospect list will include people who are the correct age for fundraising and have more than a casual relationship with your organization, or match closely with your existing donor base (as in the case of an affinity-oriented rented list).
Hopefully, they also will be philanthropically inclined and direct mail responsive, too.
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