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Is Your Holiday Mailing a Thumbs-Up (or Down)?

There's a lot to love in the mailbox and inbox these days, but …

December 6, 2012 By Pamela Barden
If your mail (postal and electronic) is anything like mine, it's been a bonanza lately. Over the last several weeks, I have received calendars, greeting cards, supporter cards, address labels, gift tags and stickers. I've also received a number of donation catalogs, giving me a tangible idea of how my donation will be used.

Being a direct-response junkie, I love this stuff. But I know that's not a universal sentiment. Others prefer e-mail (which I typically disregard since it's all I can do to keep up with my work-related e-mail), and some enjoy going to events sponsored by their favorite nonprofits.

Of course, none of this is exactly revolutionary. You're a fundraising professional, so you know the importance of using multiple channels to secure and retain donors. You're constantly testing to find the next great acquisition approach or the key to reactivating lapsed donors.

But we're all constantly refining to get even better. So here are a few areas where I see improvements are merited — and a couple of rave reviews — from the fundraising mail and e-mail I've received in the last few weeks.

Thumbs Down: Type too small or reversed out of color
Yes, this is a curmudgeonly middle-aged comment, but why do we ask donors to work so hard to read our letters? Surely there are a few sentences that can be cut so we don't go smaller than 12-point type. And while reversed type may look great, if it can't be easily read, it has no place in fundraising mailings.

Resolve that for 2013 your mail will be easy to read. Even if your donors are all under 50, they will probably enjoy your letters more if they are simpler to read.

Thumbs Up: Quality (and useful) freemiums
I have received some beautiful calendars this year and a few sets of address labels that I am proud to use. I'm reminded of the organization and its mission, and left with a positive impression.

I'm not up to an argument about whether or not freemiums create a dependency on the part of the donor. Let's just leave it at this: If you send freemiums, make them things that the donor will value. It's no more expensive to produce an attractive set of address labels or a calendar that has space for me to write appointments.

 

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