A new study on online giving came out the other day and surprisingly found that one key to successful online donations is through direct mail! As I always say there is a reason non-profits fill our mail boxes with old fashioned snail mail, it works! What about your church do you use direct mail? If you do are you using it effectively?
Here are some thoughts that can help your next direct mail approach work for your church.
K.I.S.S. Keep it succinct somehow! First understand that people at best are going to skim your letter. Your appeal must thus get right to the point. Also, have one point not multiple points. Remember laypeople say there is no bad short sermon and the same can be said about your letters.
Stay positive. Even if the letter is about helping you avert some financial crisis put a positive spin on things. For instance I always start each letter I write for clients stating positive things the church is seeing happen. Why? People give to that which matters.
Include inserts. Inserts always get looked at. Not long ago for a major client I had them list on an insert all the summer initiatives we were asking them to support in the main body of the letter. The insert served two functions. One it allowed us to say more and keep the letter to one page. Two it was probably read more thoroughly than the letter.
I would also include various other things in your letter. For one thing I would always recommend a self addressed stamp envelope be inserted. One of my clients the other day commented that he had to fight with his finance committee about sending out an appeal letter with envelopes. Their objection was that it would cost them $60. When over $1,300 came back in those envelopes they stopped complaining about the $60!
Make the envelope stand out. A direct mail piece that does not get opened is a waste of your money. Make sure yours at least gets open. How? Here are some thoughts…
- Hand address them. Hand addressed envelopes get opened more than labeled ones.
- Vary the size. Move beyond the standard legal size to produce curiosity.
- Include inserts that demand an opening. Why not insert pens, buttons, or even CD’s of sermons to insure that people open them?
- Put special messages on the outside that captures attention.
The thing is you have to work at getting their attention. It might shock you but they are not all that excited about opening up your mail. Work to make the appeal letter appealing!
Set up a systematic schedule for direct appeal letters. Most direct appeal from churches is more knee jerk than planned. Most are a result of a crisis that must be met now. A part of your stewardship planning should be a direct mail strategy that is planned and systematic. As with anything, the more planning you put into it the more effective it will be. Do you have a direct mail plan?
I am a huge online fan. I write extensively about online giving platforms. I even started a company to help churches increase their online effectiveness. Yet I still believe in the power of the good old US mail to get the message of my clients out in the most effective way garnering the best financial results. Direct mail is not dead yet. Are you using it effectively?
Start now thinking about how to make your letters more appealing and effective. The mail you send out can help you make budget if it is done well.
Mark Brooks- The Stewardship Coach
Founder and President, The Charis Group and Charis Giving Solutions