Well, COVID-19 certainly has thrown a wrench in fundraising. It’s hard enough to lean on your donors during the good times, so we know you’ve got your work cut out for you.

But a little creativity in your approach and print marketing will go a long way. Staying sensitive to our current reality and empathizing in your engagements is essential—and so is gently reminding your donors to do the same with you. Remind them of the impact you create and how you need their help to sustain it and weather this storm.

The human element is the most important ingredient in your messaging right now because we’re all pining for it. Social distancing, isolation, separation—whatever you call it, the common denominator is distance. And left unattended or acknowledged, it becomes a gap between you and your constituents that will be harder and harder to bridge.

To make your messaging resonate, go to the tried-and-true well: direct mail.

  • According to the U.S. Postal Service, 67% of survey respondents feel mail is more personal than the internet, and 56% said receiving mail is a “real pleasure.” (How many things can we say that about right now?)
  • The response rate for direct mail is nine times higher than email according to the Data and Marketing Association.
  • Plus, it’s safe to send—the CDC, World Health Organization and Surgeon General reported no evidence of COVID-19 being spread through mail.

Bottom line, print gets you results. Here are Firespring’s 10 secrets to cutting costs but still increasing your ROI on printing and mailing.

1. Apply for the nonprofit postage rate and save as much as 80%.

Precanceled stamps offer a higher open rate for a more personal feel (like a regular stamp), and nonprofits across several industries qualify, including agriculture, education, labor, philanthropy, religion, science, veteran and some political committee organizations.

2. Send a minimum volume of 200 to qualify for bulk rates.

Digital printing is more cost-effective for low-volume or short-run printing, and it works great for variable and A/B testing. On the other hand, offset printing has lower costs and better image quality for higher volume (2,000-plus identical pieces).

3. Increase the size and weight of what you’re sending.

Oversized envelopes can improve response rate (6.6%) compared to postcards (5.7%) and general direct mail (5.1%).

4. Make it personal.

Use your recipient’s name and what you know about them through color pops to improve response. Their name alone can increase response rate by 44%.

5. Seek out the right segments.

Make sure your messaging is on point for the right target audience(s): existing donors, lapsed donors and new donors/prospects. For example, while you might share how existing donors’ contributions have resulted in real achievements, a better message for lapsed donors would be a feedback survey.

6. Better data, better results.

Run the gamut to clean up your send list: deduping, list acquisition, every-door direct mail (EDDM), National Change of Address and Coding Accuracy Support System certification. When your data is stronger, you can make more personal appeals and more strategically segment your communication.

7. Let technology be your all-star volunteer.

Automate things like printing, folding, stuffing, matching and sealing so you can make the most of your resources, like volunteers’ time. Eliminate some of your maintenance and repair costs by working with a company better equipped to carry the technical burden inherent in printing and mailing.

8. Stagger your sends with a multi-drop campaign.

Upfront, devise a plan using the same specs (but with variable elements) to save on design, print and assembly costs.

9. Timing is everything.

Your campaign needs to work in perfect harmony and make some noise. Stand out in the mailbox by avoiding Monday drop dates, when the most mail is received. Instead aim for Tuesday–Thursday to avoid competition. Work with your partner on when to send your piece based on delivery date.

10. Content is king.

Make your direct mail pieces skimmable, state your ask clearly, back it up with testimonials and put the focus on the donor (“you” not “we”). Any graphics or visuals need to be authentic and aligned to your mission. Top it off with the right call to action, whether you’re sending them to a landing page or filling out a reply card.

Get your FREE direct mail ROI analysis and see how you can put these steps in action at firespring.com/roi.