Ugly Works

A simple direct mail design will get your organization more money!

While I like to think of each direct mail piece as a masterpiece, there is some (data proven!) truth to the age-old marketing saying:

“The uglier it is, the better it will work.”

At least weekly I hear, “We want to do a glitzy package with an interesting design and lots of photos.” And I think to myself, “So do I!” and envision awards for the best design for my office. But, then reality creeps in and I have to say, “But that doesn’t work.”

Trust me, no one is more tired of the white paper, black text, and #10 packages than I am. But you know what? Those are the packages that raise the most money, and drive the largest response rates.

Now, don’t get me wrong, even those tried and true packages can perform poorly if not executed correctly. That’s why I want to share some tips for a successful piece of direct mail – learned from experience.

No Fancy Package Designs

Don’t go crazy with photos or fancy layouts when you’re asking your donors to give. Save the creativity and images for reporting to your donors all the good they’ve done. That’s why AppealMaker letter templates are simple – they work!

Only One Message

Don’t say thank you and ask for money and include a brochure. The only goal of your appeal communication is to raise money. Not thanking, not educating about programs. Make it clear what you are asking your donors to do – donate!

Talk To Your Donor, About the Donor

Talk one-to-one, like you would talk to your grandmother. Polite, but informal. Eliminate jargon and anything that does not directly support why you need them to make a gift. Talk about what the donor accomplishes with their gift, not what the organization does. Talk about the donor, not the organization!

Suggest Gift Amounts

Make it easy for your donors to give, and suggest gift amounts. Always be sure to ask for a slightly larger amount than the gift they’ve previously given to keep moving them up the giving ladder.

Complete Remit Information

Make it even easier for your donors to give. You’re going to customize the rest of your donor’s letter with personal messages and their address, so make sure you print donor details on the remittance devices too! This eliminates any guesswork on what you’re asking for from the donor, and removes additional “forms” they would have to complete.

For all the naysayers out there – yes, there is a time and place for interesting design or multiple goals in one piece of communication. But from my experience, those instances are few and far between.

My biggest advice to nonprofit fundraisers is to remember the other age-old acronym we all know: KISS: Keep It Super Simple! Especially if you or your organization are new to direct mail. When you’ve established a baseline for your organization, then you can introduce new elements and analyze those results.

Happy Mailing!

Ready to start sending direct mail the easy way?

Or want to learn more about AppealMaker?