Don’t Delay Your Direct Mail Project – Set Up a Postage Account

It’s that time of the year again, the busy season.  This is when everyone wants their direct mail piece out as quickly as possible.  You may be concentrating on getting the data and information for the mail piece to Rescigno’s and forget about paying the postage.  Since we don’t want to hold up your mailing because we’re waiting for the postage, we recommend setting up a postage account with us.


How can you set up a postage account?

It’s easy.  Let me know how many mailings you will be sending out and the estimated number of people you’ll be sending to.  I will send you an invoice itemizing each mailing.  Once we receive the postage check, I will put it into an account here at RMC for your upcoming mailings.  When I invoice each mailing, I will deduct the prepaid postage.


Don’t forget to plan your projects ahead of time, so you can save money on postage.  Give yourself enough time to send the mailing out at standard rates.  A non profit standard letter will deliver in 3 – 10 days and save you approximately .23 each piece over 1st class postage.


Call or e-mail with any questions or for more information.

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Great Graphic Design and Your Nonprofit

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We don’t often talk graphic design in our blogs, but having recently spoken with several nonprofit communicators and a few graphic designers at a conference where we were exhibiting I wanted to share with you a path to achieve high-impact design for your nonprofit.    There are 4  pre-design steps to graphic design effectiveness starting with the right designers.

Here’s what your colleagues recommend:

  • Be clear, comprehensive and realistic – Kitty McCullough, a communications consultant, advises that you “Sketch out as much as you can at the beginning and ask for sketches so your designer doesn’t spend time working up something far from what you want.”
  • Mark Dessauer, a communications officer at Active Living By Design, gets 3-5 concepts  from graphic designers.  He asks for distinct takes on the project at hand, not variations on the same theme.
  • Build a solid, candid, ongoing relationship with your graphic designers.  there’s nothing more important than building and maintaining relationships.  This is imperative if you want your designers to keep you, and your organization’s design profile, top of mind.   Speaking with freelance graphic designers on an ongoing basis ensures staying current with both focus and news.
  • You are not the graphic designer, so don’t try to be one.  This is tricky because you have an aesthetic sense and probably want to apply it to your brochures and other templates just as you do in your garden or living room.  Put a clamp on it!  Don’t tell the graphic designer how to do his/her job.  that person is the pro, not you.  Suggest?  Sure.  Ask questions?  Yes.

How do you ensure that your graphics and text tell a connected story?

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Your Address List or Data Can Make or Break Your Appeal


Sorry, but I have to use this venue to rant a little.  I recently was working with a client that had temps enter lists of names and addresses from old school lists.  There were 16 different schools and the temps created a list of about 2,000 names and addresses for each school.   It was done at the schools during the summer months and now they wanted to combine these lists and do a fall appeal.

They wanted to do a personalized letter to all these people, about 30,000.  When I suggested that we should hand insert these pieces to make sure that the data was correct, the client said, “Oh, I’m not worried about that.”  She actually told me she didn’t care about the data!  She didn’t care if the names and addresses were entered correctly, she didn’t care that she was asking someone for money and there was a chance that the name wasn’t spelled correctly and she didn’t want to pay the extra money to make sure that it was done properly, she didn’t care that people would just throw them in the garbage if the salutations weren’t correct.  She just didn’t care.  And, that’s why her response rate will be so low.  If you don’t care about the few crucial elements of direct mail fundraising then you shouldn’t do it.

I realized that she just had a job to do and she was just going to get it out the cheapest way possible.  She didn’t care that she could get a better response if she paid a little extra upfront.  So I ask you,  are you only concerned about the cost per piece to send out your annual fund appeals?  Or, are you one of the smart ones that have figured out if you do it right, you’ll get a better response?   Direct mail should be the grassroots of your fundraising program and if you’re not doing it correctly, it will show.


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Got New Donors? Now Get ‘Em to Renew and They’ll Be More than Just Your Friend


For many, the fall appeal has been sent out or is flying into mailboxes as we write.

That means you are now in the Did It Work? mode.  Let’s just assume you’ve put together an appeal with a killer story that people just can’t say no to and the gifts start coming in hot and heavy (you should be so lucky).    You discover that you have somehow unearthed more new donors that ever before.  This is truly your opportunity for a bonanza!  Why?  Because if you can get those first timers to give a 2nd time within a 9-month period,  our studies show you have a more than average chance of turning that group into lifetime, loyal donors who increase their gifts regularly.

Here are some suggestions to make it happen:

  1. Ask them why they chose to give- do you send your donors a survey, you should…especially new ones.   Let them tell you about themselves,   their motivation for giving, their family, their interests and hobbies.  Ask them for suggestions and feedback .  Surveys are a great way to compile information that will help strengthen your program and begin a conversation with a new donor from the very beginning.
  2. Don’t assume that new donors know why you need their support.  Immediately confirm that you have received their gift and what you will do with it to help people.  Then, after a reasonably short period of time (before the 9-month window), ask again as you give them an update.
  3. If all you do with a 1st time gift is put that name into a general house file, you’re not even trying to anticipate the donor’s needs and expectations and the chances are very high that there will be no second gift.
  4. Try to be interested.  This is a talent and a fine line must be drawn between being accessible and open and  and over spending on one-time givers.   Here’s a good way to think of this budding relationship:  be engaged, but not desperate.
  5. A low cost, effective way  to capture a donor’s attention and appreciation can be invitations to a new member reception.  Your suggestions would be appreciated.  What works for you?
  6. After you’ve done all or some portion of the above, it’s time to test the results.  How many donors have made a 2nd gift (converted to recurring) and what information have you learned from the surveys  and from speaking with your new donors either in person or, more likely, on the phone or via email?

Again, please share your ideas for getting a 2nd gift from those newbies.





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Penny Wise and Dollar Very Foolish Direct Mail Decisions


What do you want out of your direct mail programs?  Lots of money to spend on more projects or campaigns, right?

So you look for the least expensive fundraising agency, right?  So that you’ll be able to keep more of the money that is raised, right?  That is the right approach, isn’t it?

Here’s the truth:  following the above line of thinking will mean that you are avoiding the best talent that can bring in the best bang for your buck.   At this point, you may be thinking, sure Ron, you just want more money for yourself.  Ok, ok be skeptical.  But, please don’t be penny wise and dollar foolish.   Foolish how?

Your focus should be on finding an agency (that’s us) that will help you raise the most money — the most net dollars.  That does not mean finding a company that will charge you the lowest fee.

I often say this on visits to clients who are more concerned about cost per piece of mail than what it will take to get the desired response:  if you gave someone a dime and he turned it int0 $20 you might be content.  But what if you gave me a quarter and I turned it into $100 for you?  Would you complain that I charged the first guy less than I charged you after you knew the results?  I don’t think so .

As Mark Twain once said, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”   Someone else, maybe my dad, used to say, “In this world, you get what you pay for.”  When you hire an agency or printer because they “aren’t that expensive,” expect to get what you are paying f or.

If you want to exceed expectations, hire a company that has passion and expertise for what they do.  How do you determine that?  Interview them?  Ask them questions?  Test their knowledge?  Do you want someone who is disinterested but less expensive, or someone that seems totally engaged from the outset (though they may be more costly upfront)?

Companies that achieve optimum bang for your buck (like ours) have to charge what we do in order to keep thought and innovation leaders on our staff.

So the next time you have to decide who to use for  your next project, be brave, do your homework, decide if you want a  small return on your investment or if you want to spend a little more and work with an agency that cares about RoI instead of someone who offers nothing more than job fulfillment.





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