Direct mail fundraising has been a tried and true fundraising method for many organizations for decades. However, many are worried about the future of direct mail fundraising.
New donor acquisition campaigns via direct mail alone have seen their return rates decrease steadily in the past decade to less than 1%. Increased costs of printing and postage have also presented a challenge in this same time span, with some organizations reporting spending an average of $1-$1.25 for every dollar raised on direct mail fundraising campaigns in the United States.
So is direct mail fundraising dead? Not when you pair it with peer-to-peer (P2P) texting with RumbleUp.
The problem is direct mail acquisition campaigns are largely unsuccessful. However, donor renewal direct mail campaigns perform significantly better, with an 8-9% average return rate, and an average of $0.20-$0.35 spent per dollar raised in the United States. This shows that direct mail campaigns can still be successful after getting over the barrier of acquiring a new donor, which can be done with P2P texting.
The question now is what can be done to help potential contacts successfully become new donors, and how can you make these new donors into super-supporters that respond to donor renewal campaigns? RumbleUp’s text-to-donate integration with Anedot makes it easy. P2P text fundraising is affordable and profitable, with 15-20 cents raised on average per text sent.
P2P texting works through the communication channel proven to receive the highest visibility and largest response rate. It’s the channel people care about most with over 90% of texts read within the first 3 minutes and an average total open rate of 95%. We have seen successful fundraising messages sent to millions of people for a wide variety of unique use cases.
Your response rate is key with fundraising because responses lead to more opportunities for having genuine conversations with potential and current donors, which in turn leads to more money raised. P2P texting significantly outperforms traditional channels with its industry average response rate ranging from 10–40%!
P2P texting has the ability to facilitate seamless, personalized conversations. This means that along with providing a way to support your organization’s direct mail donor cultivation efforts, we also have the tools to help you build effective, targeted campaigns for connecting with these donors and assist them in the mailing process.
Here’s how to enhance direct mail fundraising with P2P texting:
1. Establish who you are and why your organization matters through text
Before sending off a direct mail campaign to your audience, send them a text introducing your organization and why they should care.
We have seen this small initial interaction greatly improve the number of successful donations because people are much more receptive to giving when they know who is sending them mail instead of that being the first time they have ever heard from you.
The text you send can make an even bigger impact by including an image or video (MMS attachment) that coincides with your mail piece, or relevant links providing further information.
Including pictures or videos in your text not only makes your message more interesting, but also helps humanize your text and make a lasting impression on your audience. Adding a face to a name in order to personify your organization has significant benefits.
We have seen that including a picture or video in a text boosts response rates by up to 50% compared to plain SMS messages.
Links must be explained in the copy of your message in order for audiences to feel safe clicking so make sure to include a call to action with it. Providing a link is an easy way to give people an alternative way to donate or read more about your cause.
For example, you can include a link to a landing page explaining when to expect a fundraising letter, or how to fill it out and return it. You can track all link click-throughs right inside the RumbleUp platform with our built-in link-tracking functionality.
RumbleUp client Ron Muzzall included an MMS attachment and links in his texts to his audience to properly establish who he was, why people should donate, and then gave a place to do so. His fundraising efforts were very successful, with over $90,000 raised in individual contributions of under $200.
Read more about his fundraising efforts and how he accomplished these results here.
2. Use texting to build a relationship with your prospective and current donors
Every message you send is a chance to have a conversation with a prospective or current donor. Use language in all your messages that encourages your audience to respond.
For instance, you can ask opinion-based questions about current events to collect useful data, or simply let your audience know they can respond back to you with text or pictures if they need any help filling out a donation form or have questions.
Using texting to build relationships with potential and current donors is more effective if you don’t only text them to ask for money. Since texting is the most cost-effective way to directly reach people with each message costing a few pennies, it’s well worth it to send additional engagement messages in between asks.
We have seen that the most successful formula for text fundraising is to send two or three engagement messages in between every direct fundraising message. The reason this works is because people like to give money when they feel they are personally valued by the organization.
If you want someone to care about supporting you and your cause, you need to show that you care about them as well.
Some great ideas for engagement messages include:
- Recognizing a national holiday or donor’s birthdays
- Sending updates about relevant breaking news affecting your organization
- Share stories about how your donor’s contribution(s) have helped the organization, such as the successful completion of a project or initiative
- Collecting updated audience information through surveys, such as their positions on certain issues, opinions on changes in your organization, or new mailing and email addresses
3. Be sure to thank your supporters
The most crucial element to successful fundraising is recognizing the people who have donated to you.
Good stewardship is essential in maintaining lasting donor relations. Overlooking the importance of this will result in a constant struggle to find donors and keep them active.
The simplest way to turn a one-time donor into a lifelong donor is to let them know their donation mattered. Sending a thank you text message is easy and takes hardly any time at all. When you compare the amount of effort it takes to thank someone for their donation to the amount of future giving that can result from this small gesture, it’s a no-brainer.
RumbleUp client Thom Tillis used P2P texting for fundraising in order to compete with the massive amount of financial support his opponent Cal Cunningham was receiving. Thanking donors was a simple act that the Tillis team made sure to do which led to many supporters donating multiple times despite the odds. Tillis was able to raise over $5.3 million dollars in small individual contributions of under $200, which his texting efforts largely contributed to. Read more about his fundraising efforts and how he accomplished these results here.
Whether the focus is identifying new donors, thanking current supporters, or providing specific information and resources, RumbleUp includes a wide range of built-in tools to manage your data for targeted outreach. Read more about how to do it here.
4. Consider adding direct fundraising text integrations like Anedot to complement your fundraising program
Direct mail fundraising can run into some unavoidable road bumps. Some people will never get your letters because of inaccurate mailing addresses, misdeliveries, or they simply never saw it.
Some people don’t know how to fill out checks or don’t feel comfortable filling out their information and sending donations through the mail. Others may not want to take the time and effort to fill out forms and go through the return process.
Make it easy for potential supporters to donate by allowing them the opportunity to donate online, which can be done seamlessly with RumbleUp’s partnership integration with Anedot.
With Anedot, our clients have a simple, intuitive text-to-donate integration that enables previous donors to give by simply texting back, instead of needing to fill out a form with their info.
All you need to do is connect your Anedot account with your RumbleUp account and start or reuse an Anedot campaign to include as a fundraising link in messages sent to your donors.
Then, a recipient simply needs to register as an Anedot donor with a link you provide them if they are not already registered and they will then be able to reply back with a keyword you choose (such as “YES”) and the dollar amount they wish to give.
Once they are a registered Anedot donor, their future donations can be automatically processed simply by texting you back and you will see the amount added to your Anedot campaign.
Boost your direct mail fundraising efforts by pairing it with P2P texting. RumbleUp’s text-to-donate integration with Anedot is the perfect solution to seamless fundraising that can be used to enhance any direct mail campaign. Prospect new donors and engage with your current ones through the power of direct, personal outreach.
Learn more or sign up today at RumbleUp.com or reach out to our sales team and we can discuss how to make your unique fundraising use case successful.
Co-authored by: Dana Cichon and Lauren Datres from RumbleUp