Five Maples’ Fundraising Blog

The Why, Where and How of using personalization in a fundraising letter

Direct Marketing IQ’s Cheryl Cagle reports that 60% of fundraising direct mail was personalized in 2014. Of all market segments, only insurance uses more personalization.

Personalization: Why to do it

  1. The reason why 93% of direct mail fundraising appeals are letters is because people give to people. Letters are from a person to a person―or they are when they are personalized.
  2. Remember that no word in the English language is more important than our own name. The first thing donors should read in a letter is their name in the salutation.
  3. Donors tend to forget when and how much they last gave. Remind them. And, by reminding them and thanking them for how much they gave you last time, you show that you know and appreciate how they have been helping.
  4. “I’ll get to this later”. Response cards often get set aside, since it takes effort to fill it out and write out a check.
    Inertia takes over. So, make it easier.

    1. Pre-print the donor’s information so they don’t have to do it.
    2. Include check off boxes for the suggested amount to give – removing the mental effort of deciding what amount to give.
  5. Update their contact information. Print their phone number and email if you have it, and leave a blank line if you don’t. Ask them to provide their email address so you can keep them updated.


Personalization: Where to do it

  1. Letter
    1. Salutation: use their first name
    2. Start an ask sentence or thank you sentence with first name
    3. For top donors: hand write notes on the letter
  2. Response card
    1. Name and address
    2. Phone number
    3. Email
    4. Last annual fund gift
    5. Last annual fund gift date
    6. Ask amount
    7. Constituent ID


Personalization: How to do it

Chances are that you already have the essential data in your data base, but to get personalization right, you need to work hard to have accurate, clean data.

Pay particular attention to the salutation field. It’s true that Five Maples can create a salutation field for you from the first name field, and we do that a lot for clients. But only you will know that Chris J. goes by C.J. not by Chris, or whether Robert goes by Robert, Rob, Bob, or Bobby, or is one of those few remaining formal people who prefer to be addressed as Mrs. Henricksen, not Marge (I don’t really mean you, Mom, it’s just an example!).

Always code gifts in your database so you know where they came from. When using the last gift as the basis for thanking the donor or for asking for a new gift, you want to base it on their last annual fund gift, not an event registration or a capital campaign gift. Assign a code (like AF1012 – indicating annual fund Oct 2012) to each gift source so you can correctly pull the last gift.

Need help getting out your spring fundraising appeal?

Whether you need lists, data-work, printing and mailing, or help with writing, design and editing, we are ready to help you! Call me at 800-437-7780 ext 104, or Email Me Today!

Tags: , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply