Acquisition – Direct Mail: The Exquisite Corpse

The Agitator

For nearly 20 years prognosticators have prematurely heralded the death of direct mail. After all, they argue, “online” is far cheaper and faster, plus donor demographics are changing, so it’s only a matter of time before direct mail is dead and buried. So, as The Agitator begins exploring various acquisition channels, I want to start off by making certain everyone understands that the “Direct Mail Is Dead Myth” is just that — a myth.

Fundraising letter for acquisition mailing

Fundraising Coach

Last week, I received this question about a fundraising letter acquisition mailing. Hi Marc, We are doing an acquisition mailing to patients of Local Community Clinic on behalf of Local Community Clinic Foundation, a 501c3 that offers support to the Clinic and the Community. The mailing is huge – just over 100,000 – and we are trying to keep this within our budget abilities without losing the personal touch for the end readers.


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Acquisition: Direct Mail Testing – Part 1

The Agitator

Tom’s post on the Obama campaign’s email testing prompts me to weigh in on one of the least understood and woefully mis-practiced skills in the direct response fundraiser’s repertoire – direct mail testing. Almost universally there are three, interconnected and very BIG PROBLEMS with how most nonprofit direct mail testing is done. P.S. In Acquisition: Direct Mail Testing – Part 2, we’ll look at the Importance of Avoiding the Baby and the Bath Water.

New Webinar: Donor acquisition best practices for 2021


A significant percentage of supporters will eventually stop responding to direct mail, donating online, following a charity on social media, or opening cause-related emails! Online Fundraising Care2 Webinars Lead Generation email fundraising acquisition

Acquisition: Direct Mail Testing – Part 2

The Agitator

One of the biggest pitfalls in direct mail testing is the ‘baby & the bathwater’ problem. The problem occurs when an organization or its consultant creates and mails a test package with numerous test elements. Client X mails a totally new package – different OE, letter format, letter copy, inserts – against the control. Acquisition database marketing direct mail direct marketing Don't Miss these Posts DonorVoice fundraising marketing metrics nonprofits

Question: How Much Acquisition?

A Small Change

How much major donor acquisition does your organization do? How important is donor acquisition for your organizations? Question: Why mailings over phone calls? Do you ever struggle to know how much time do you spend you should spend building new relationships versus growing existing ones? I am working with a younger major gifts program and my role is to build new relationships. My goal has been to meet with one person every day to bring them close to the organization.

Acquisition Topics

The Agitator

Roger and I have begun preparing a series of posts focusing on donor acquisition. Mail — Is mail prospecting working these days? … We’d welcome your comments regarding priorities amongst these topics … or other acquisition issues you’d like us to address. Acquisition direct mail direct marketing Don't Miss these Posts email marketing fundraising marketing metrics nonprofit management online fundraising telemarketing

Direct Mail And Hurricanes

The Agitator

Postal Service is wondering, “Should I mail or not mail?” ” To The Agitator , with its roots in direct mail, this is both a donor-centric question and an organization-centric one. If you mail a massive acquisition campaign right now that includes Southeast Texas, Louisiana and Florida zip codes, you’ll appear insensitive if not downright mendacious to prospective donors.

It’s Donor Acquisition Week

The Agitator

Many fundraisers –regardless of the size of their organization—tell us that donor acquisition is one of their biggest problems. If acquisition is such a big problem then why in the world are so many fundraisers attempting to solve such a large and complex problem with cookie-cutter strategies and woefully incomplete plans, procedures and analysis? The #1 excuse we hear about poor acquisition involves money.

Breaking Down Your Acquisition Silos

The Agitator

It advocates breaking your mental jars of acquisition money and (shockingly) using them where they can do the most good. Arbitrage opportunities abound for those willing to break out of acquisition silos: If you haven’t looked at your metrics lately, you might find that mail has a 24-month payback period and online a six-month one. Lapsed reactivation versus new donor acquisition. Do you run the same acquisition mail volume or ad spend every month?

Acquisition: Using The Web To Boost Postal Mail Prospecting

The Agitator

How can you use online advertising to reinforce traditional direct mail campaigns and boost returns? And the reason was/is that most online advertising models — whether based on contextual or keyword search or behavioral profiling—don’t work for the following reasons: They’re incapable of measuring the cross-channel impact of an online ad on direct mail. Clearly a losing proposition for most acquisition programs. And it works for both acquisition and house file efforts.

Acquisition: Why ‘Best Practices’ Suck

The Agitator

One organization copying another organization’s seemingly successful acquisition package simply leads to the next doing the same. So couple lack of innovation (the duplication of the same old/same old prospecting packages) with the horrid absence of brand awareness and you have 90% or more of today’s acquisition mail. The fact is that where there is no brand recognition for a nonprofit there is likely to be poor acquisition.

Direct Mail is not Yet Dead

The Agitator

None of this matters if you can’t block and tackle with mail. That’s right, mail isn’t dead. So here are my arguments for continued use of the mail. Mail is where more donations come in. Mail retains donors (slightly) better. Ending mail acquisition is a flop. American Cancer Society stopped mail acquisition in January 2013: New donors dropped by 11%. They started mail acquisition back up 18 months later.

Direct Mail Yields Major Gift Donors

The Agitator

On Monday we reported on the American Cancer Society (ACS) and its project over the past year to re-examine the role of direct mail in its fundraising program. ACS is committed to a sophisticated multi-channel marketing approach, in which direct mail remains a key work horse, and in which the full potential value of each donor (financial and otherwise) is recognized. Acquisition direct mail direct marketing major donors premium

Acquisition: Its Costs And ROI – Part 2

The Agitator

You can do the calculation on the back of an envelope … [Gross income from donor over whatever period of years you choose MINUS the cost of Acquisition + the per donor costs of file maintenance, overhead, cultivation, appeals and renewal = Lifetime Value]. Example: Premium Acquisition Program. Premium-driven acquisition programs are notorious for their low average gifts and lousy retention rates. Note the 5% acquisition response rate in Year 1 in the table above.

Grow Your Email List With These 14 Paid Email Acquisition Sources

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

Paid acquisition supplements organic growth and helps you grow your base of support more quickly, for a price of course. There are 4 basic types of paid email acquisition. E-append vendors take your direct-mail data and match it against their database to obtain email addresses. Before you get started with paid acquisition, do this: Paid Acquisition Tips. Here are 14 paid acquisition resources for you to consider: Cost Per Action (CPA).

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[Guest Post] Donor Acquisition – the painful necessity of fundraising

Fundraising Coach

Read it both to learn the formulas and to pick up the language of the direct mail industry. Bob is a direct response/direct mail copywriter and consultant. He offers a free ebook called "Making Snail Mail Work: 13 Lessons in Direct Mail Strategy" at Bob can be reached at 508-473-8643 or on Twitter @BobMcCarthy. Donor Acquisition – the painful necessity of fundraising. That gives us a direct mail investment of $6,000.

Acquisition: Prospecting Hope For Small Organizations

The Agitator

Sadly, when it comes to direct mail acquisition the deck is stacked against small organizations; especially those with a regional or local mission focus. Fortunately, there’s hope – the use of predictive analytics to build productive and high-yield, high-retention acquisition programs. I asked Ann what her experience had been with using acquisition models for small organizations and whether or not that approach was successful.

Direct Mail Survives At American Cancer Society

The Agitator

That strategy involved: Stop all direct mail acquisition to generate new direct mail donors for the organization. Stop all direct mail conversion to offer non-direct mail Society donors (online donors, event-participants/donors, information seekers, etc.) an opportunity to give a direct mail gift. Remove the American Cancer Society direct mail donors from all exchange universes.

Direct Mail Testing To Nowhere

The Agitator

I suspect a good part of the reason why fundraising and especially acquisition is so flat or down lies in the business-as-usual, risk adverse nature prevalent in the contemporary nonprofit mentality. Acquisition direct mail Don''t Miss these Posts DonorVoice fundraising innovation premium

Door Acquisition Series #3 – NEEDED: A Better Plan

The Agitator

Many fundraisers tell me that donor acquisition is one of their biggest problems. Part of the answer may lie in the silos that exist separating ‘acquisition’ from ‘donor development’ functions in many shops. But I suspect there are two, far larger reasons: Failure to understand and plan for the true, detailed complexities of acquisition; Unwillingness to invest the time and.

How to End Your Obsession With Direct Mail (and Why)


Recently someone over-enthusiastically posted a discussion topic on one of my LinkedIn Groups promoting direct mail’s benefits. I’m not against direct mail. In fact, I love direct mail too. Evidence of her enthrallment was provided in the form of a chart that showed how research found that most major gift donors for most organizations originated from direct mail marketing. That’s the only kind of acquisition marketing most organizations employ.

Acquisition: ‘Social Media Is B t’

The Agitator

Here at the Agitator we touch a lot on the use of social media (see Tom’s post of yesterday or search our category, social networking), so I decided to include Mendelson’s insights as part the Agitator Acquisition series. It’s important differentiate the use of social media for acquisition from its ongoing and reinforcing use in dealing with already-acquired donors and supporters. If nothing else, the author of the iconoclastic Social Media is B t writes great teaser copy.

Direct Mail Hanging In

The Agitator

The Direct Marketing Association notes in its recently released 2012 Response Rate Report that direct mail response rates have dropped nearly 25% over the past nine years. Even so, direct mail pulls a better overall response than digital channels. The report also says that: Cost per order or lead for acquisition campaigns were roughly equivalent for direct mail ($51.40), post card ($54.10), email ($55.24), and paid search ($52.58). for direct mail.

Acquisition: Predictive Analytics And The Presidency

The Agitator

History’s most expensive acquisition effort – the $2 billion campaign for the US Presidency – comes to an end today. Hopefully by late tonight, or at least in the next few days, we’ll know which voter acquisition campaign was the most successful. Because many of the approaches used by the campaigns in search of votes — and the media, in search of accurate predictions on the outcome — bear watching in terms of our own acquisition efforts.

Acquisition: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

The Agitator

Before we wade into the nuts, bolts, techniques, pitfalls and opportunities in our Acquisition Series, we want to once more remind everyone of the climate in which today’s acquisition efforts are conducted. Long before the recent spate of media attention on acquisition costs and practices, there was a growing belief on the part of donors that most of their contributions were ploughed back into fundraising and overhead and little used to make the world a better place.

Starting Over #5: Growing Without Direct Mail

The Agitator

Sean Triner said recently that if you don’t already have a good DM programme, don’t do DM acquisition because of the costs nowadays. Breaking Out of the Status Quo Direct mail Donor acquisition Donor retention / loyalty / commitment Integrated fundraising and marketing Nonprofit management Starting Over premiumWhen we first announced the Starting Over series, the very first comment we received came from Sarah Nutbrown who works for a small nonprofit in New Zealand.

Donor Acquisition Series #2 – Lifetime Value: The Key Metric

The Agitator

Direct mail Donor acquisition Donor retention / loyalty / commitment Fundraising analytics / data Nonprofit management premiumA drunk loses the keys to his house and is looking for them under a lamppost. A cop comes over and asks what he’s doing. “I’m looking for my keys,” he says. “I lost them over there.” ” The policeman looks puzzled. “Then why are you looking for them all the way over here?”

Acquisition: What About Testing DRTV?

The Agitator

And just like direct mail, it requires a commitment to ongoing testing to optimize your results. Direct Response Television (DRTV) isn’t for everyone, but for many organizations it’s proven to be a powerful and essential tool in acquiring monthly donors. My friend Russ Reid, pioneered this medium in the U.S. and today the Russ Reid Company carries on his tradition. .

Acquisition: 16 Reasons Your Prospecting Is Running Out Of Gas

The Agitator

Acquisition communications direct mail direct marketing Don't Miss these Posts fundraising nonprofit management online publishingYour prospecting returns are dropping … running out of gas. What’s the problem? Here are some reasons I can think of. If it’s been happening for awhile … a longer-term trend. The worst news possible … your cause/mission/strategy is simply losing relevance and importance to an otherwise well-targeted audience.

Retention Mailings Up

The Agitator

The Agitator is gratified by this report from Fundraising Success indicating that retention mailings have grown by 16% from 2010 to 2011. He also notes that expire mailings also went up 7%. We don’t know whether this increase represents sheer desperation (given declining acquisition rates) or growing strategic awareness of the huge financial payoff from improving retention.

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Direct Mail Yields Major Gift Donors

The Agitator

On Monday we reported on the American Cancer Society (ACS) and its project over the past year to re-examine the role of direct mail in its fundraising program. ACS is committed to a sophisticated multi-channel marketing approach, in which direct mail remains a key work horse, and in which the full potential value of each donor (financial and otherwise) is recognized. Direct mail Donor acquisition Major donors direct marketing premium

Acquisition: Its Costs And ROI – Part 1

The Agitator

Ignorance about what “acquisition” is, how it should be measured, and when or whether its costs should be considered acceptable. Because the acquisition of new donors is essential to maintaining and growing virtually every organization, we all need to get much better at both understanding and explaining this essential process. In short, it is the profitable returns from these post-acquisition programs that provide the funds needed to move the mission forward.

3 Donor Acquisition Strategies to Implement for Your Year-End Fundraising

NonProfit Hub

But the one resolution your nonprofit definitely doesn’t want to break is mastering donor acquisition. Here are t hree great donor acquisition tips to try out before the year is over. Not everyone responds in the same way to direct mail, and some people detest social media. If you’ve been mailing out materials and sending emails since August, a phone call can be a refreshing way to talk to a prospect who has been thinking of donating to your organization. Direct Mail.

Fundraising Challenge: Acquisition -- Evolutionary vs. Revolutionary Thinking

Donor Power Blog

So, to get back on point, the premise around this topic, in simple terms, is that we all know how we calculate the cost to acquire or the cost per dollar raised on our acquisition campaigns, at the campaign level. Greg would say, with regards to acquisition, none. We still approach acquisition the same way today, as we did 5 years, even 20 years, ago as an industry. . If Donor A was touched once lifetime in Acquisition, $0.30

More Direct Mail Test Results

The Agitator

His examples — all dealing with direct mail acquisition packages — cover … Two-color vs four-color carrier. Mailing labels gift vs ‘invoice’ package. Mailing labels gift vs out-of-the-box paper lunch bag package. P.S. While you’re pondering the efficacy of your direct mail, read this rant — Let’s Be Direct About It: Junk Mail Sucks — by Scott Donaton writing in Direct Marketing News. I love testing!

Direct mail: How To Beat The Control

The Agitator

Donor acquisition is entering its 6 th year of a prolonged and steady slump for most organizations. As an oversimplified example, take a direct mail package with 3 components —outer envelope, letter, reply form — and 6 variations for each component. copywriting direct mail Don't Miss these Posts DonorVoice fundraising innovation marketing metrics nonprofit management nonprofits

Email: Electronic Direct Mail?

The Agitator

List-building/acquisition — [Nonprofits have a head start here. Copywriting — email is not electronic direct mail. No, says e-marketer Loren McDonald. Here’s an abridged list of what Loren says the successful email marketer really needs to know [with my comments from the peanut gallery]: 1. Email strategy — know how to create an email marketing plan and program that maximize the channel’s capabilities.

The Daily Mail Accidentally Gets One Thing Right

The Agitator

The main critique here is nothing new: the ridiculous suggestion that we should be outraged by acquisition costs and payback periods. But, sadly, I believe the Daily Mail is manufacturing outrage on a slow news day. Or, as Daniel Fluskey from the Institute of Fundraising said, “I look forward to the follow up story where the Daily Mail sets out how much they charge charities for adverts in their paper and expressed outrage that some of your donations goes to paying them.”.

5 Mail Lessons Learned While Fundraising for Higher Education

Fundraising Coach

Since he works with DMW Direct Fundraising , I’ve asked if he’d share his insights into direct mail fundraising. So here are five important lessons we have learned (and, of course, you should test, test, test, before you run with any of these): People love to “get free stuff” in the mail; front-end freemiums and back-end premiums work – period. Direct mail fundraising is more successful with multi-part campaigns rather than one-drop mailings.

Statistically Speaking, It’s All Good

Non Profit Marketing 360

Advocacy Community Direct Mail Donor Acquisition Fundraising Marketing Nonprofit Philanthropy Research Social Media advocacy Convio direct mail Donation donors e-newsletters email Internet marketing marketing mobile phones Non-profit organization Nonprofit organization online fundraising researchSo many studies of social networking, fundraising and online marketing have been released in recent weeks that it becomes a major chore to keep them straight.

Nonprofit Scandals Are Hurting Your Bottom Line

Non Profit Marketing 360

First it was CNN’s investigative reports on a veterans organization that paid its direct mail fundraiser $60 million in fees to raise $56 million. Even if you don’t use outside telemarketing or direct mail services, you could pay the price for donors’ diminished trust in nonprofit causes. That got the attention of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. In June CNN found that the same fundraising firm kept most of the $25 million it raised for the SPCA.

#Interview: Michael Stein, Author, Blogger, & Veteran Nonprofit Technology Strategist

Non Profit Marketing 360

In the mid-1990s, I hooked up with legendary direct mail fundraisers Mal Warwick and Nick Allen, and we started to think about what the future of fundraising might look like with the evolving Internet. On one side of the building we have the folks raising money in the mail, and on our side we have a dozen people furiously raising money over the web, Facebook and email.