As a college or university, your education fundraising goals usually have one objective: to raise funds. Sounds simple enough – but how do you cut through the clutter to get your alumni to read, and then respond, to your fundraising efforts?
In a recent YouGov Giving Report, 21% of respondents cited direct mail as the trigger for their most recent donation. Why? Print is powerful. Bringing touch into the marketing experience helps shift the brain into a deeper level of engagement. Consumers also understand and remember what they read on paper better than what they read on a screen (Proust and the Squid, Maryanne Wolf).
According to a study done by the Data and Marketing Association, consumers are reading direct mailings in greater numbers, with a 3.9% year over year increase. Also, 30% of consumers polled reported that a mailed catalog drove them to shop online (Quad Graphics). This means that traditional print is not only being viewed by growing numbers every year, but is also driving action.
It’s clear that direct mail services can make an impact on your higher education fundraising campaign. Here are the best ways to maximize your opportunities using direct mail.
Work with a service that bundles printing and postage.
Printing in itself can be a significant cost, but the added service of inserting, stamping, and distributing can be an extraordinary expense. Choose a provider that can do all of the above, from printing, to folding, inserting, and stamping mail. A bundled package will often be more cost-effective than doing each service individually.
Send news and updates to alumni without asking for money.
The alumni relationship starts with an acceptance letter, and too often, ends at graduation. Continue the relationship and keep open channels of communication that don’t require alumni to give. Having a great athletic season? Let them know. Has a professor been nominated for an award? Let them know. Keep them in the loop and give them a sense of community. They will be more willing to give if they feel included.
Don’t expect them to give to an organization, but expect them to give to a cause.
We’ve seen it work time and time again. Highlight a specific student or program that benefits from their donation, whether it be scholarships, new equipment, or program funding. Show them that their money is going to a worthwhile cause. The likes of fundraising platforms such as GoFundMe see many crowdfunding campaigns for students wishing to raise the funds for their college education, so before you ask if people would give for these efforts, they already do.
Give options for how to donate.
People are more likely to give to something they have a personal connection to, and although all alumni have a connection to their alma mater, it’s not enough. If possible, allow alumni to donate to a specific department, program, club, or initiative. Allow them to relive their glory days and continue their legacy through future students.
Make it personal.
Personalize your messages as much as you can, going further than just including their name. You know their major, and probably, many of the activities they participated in. Use this information to craft specific messages to fund areas of their interest in your direct mail. Furthermore, include phrases such as “you,” “I,” and “we” to create an approachable and real entity.
Recognize consistent giving.
This is particularly important for younger alumni, who don’t have much to give. Recognize alumni who have given two or more years in a row, regardless of the amount, this can be made easier with donor management software solutions, in which you can learn more here.
Keep it simple.
The top reason that people ignore direct mail is due to lack of time. Experiment with clear and concise messages, ones that get to the point and take little time to read. There are times when simplicity is best.
Ready to get started?
If you’re ready to start reducing cost per dollar raised while increasing fundraising response rates through direct mail services, contact us. During our conversation we can discuss feasibility, potential savings, and if our bundled printing and postage services are the best fit for your campaign efforts.