CDE project 11b: part two — output from the direct mail workshop and recommendations to improve the donor experience
- Written by
- The Commission on the Donor Experience
- April 28, 2017
Right now, direct mail is a cost effective and valuable key point of contact with supporters and potential supporters. What can the sector do to counter the public perception of ‘junk mail and begging letters’? How can we shine a light on DM as a life-source for beneficiaries?
These are some of the questions we asked in a half-day workshop attended by charities small and large as well as agencies across creative and planning.
On the day we had representatives from the following charities and agencies:
Breast Cancer Care, Parkinsons UK, Shelter, Marie Curie, Sense, Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care, RNLI, World Villages for Children, St Johns Ambulance, The Air Ambulance Service, Riding for the Disabled Associated, Watson Phillips Norman, Wood for Trees, Brightsource.
The purpose and format of the workshop was to:
- Discuss hopes and fears around the role of direct mail today, and to discuss the best way forward in light of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the proposed Fundraising Preference Service (FPS).
- To review in small groups the composition and content of good and bad examples of direct mail work (brought along by attendees) to agree what makes a great direct mail pack, and what is a real direct mail sin.
- In small groups to discuss how we plan direct mail activities (including integration) within our organisations and across the sector to agree a charter of promises to reflect how we could plan better
- To have a round-table discussion on what else we should be doing as a sector to create an environment that will allow us to change our models as necessary.
- To at the end of the day have a vote on the day’s best ideas.
The following is a summary of some of the themes that emerged, together with some examples of direct mail to illustrate the point being made.
Examples of direct mail and recommendations to improve the donor experience
Recommendation 1: Send relevant direct mail
Send donors relevant communications based on why they got in touch with you in the first place.
Example 1: British Heart Foundation
This letter includes an invitation to a Christmas remembrance event. People who couldn’t attend were encouraged to write a message on a star in-memory of their loved one. This letter was sent to donors who had made a gift at a funeral.
Example 2: World Vision
Supporters were invited to an event to celebrate what had been achieved thanks to donor’s support. The event included a section on legacy giving and was targeted at long standing donors of World Vision.
Example 3: Sue Ryder
This mailing was sent to a supporter who had made one donation at a charity shop. The group felt it was too hard hitting and reliant on guilt to be effective as a first communication. Whilst long-time supporters may appreciate the honesty, for someone who had simply dropped off a bag of goods at a shop, it was felt to be too much. There was also concern whether such an approach was sustainable i.e. you can only send a letter like this once.