Don’t Give Up on Print

If your nonprofit organization has limited resources (and many do), you may try to cut costs by scaling back your printing and mailing.  But be careful.  Print communication still has a place.  
Know your donors
You might think print is too traditional or old fashioned.  It’s not. Some donors prefer print communication.  How do you know?  You ask them. 
The more you know about your donors, the more effective your communications will be. It’s good to know the age range of your donors.  Many of them may be over 45 and won’t think print communication is old fashioned.  They might respond better to it.
The best way to communicate is to use a variety of channels, but make sure your donors are using them, too.  Aim to communicate by mail at least four times a year.
Here are some things you should still print and mail.
Fundraising letters
Fundraising letters are still effective and your fundraising campaign will work better if you use a multi channel approach.  Many people are prompted by the direct mail letter and then donate online.  That’s what I usually do.

Thank you card or letter 
Even if someone donates online, they should get a thank you note in the mail (and within a few days, as well).
Think of how little postal mail we get these days, compared to email, and how much of it’s junk.  Make your donor’s day with a heartfelt, personal thank you note.
Yes, print newsletters are expensive, but not using them could be a mistake. Your donors are more likely to read a print newsletter. 
Ideally, you should send four quarterly print newsletters a year and a monthly e-newsletter.  If four is too costly, send one or two. 
Think about putting a donation envelope in your print newsletter.  It’s a proven way to earn extra revenue.  If you do this, be sure to communicate in other ways in which you are not asking for money.
If you’re really strapped, send a year-end appeal letter and a newsletter with a donation envelope in the spring.

Event invitations
If you hold fundraising or appreciation events, be sure to send a printed invitation.  Your higher dollar, older donors might respond better to a nice print invitation with a reply card. 
Annual reports and updates
I’m not a fan of those 20 page annual reports.  You’re better off with something shorter – a four-page report or even an oversized postcard.
You should share accomplishments with your donors, but you may not need to mail an annual report to all of them. 
Think about creating different types of annual reports for different donors – four page reports for grant and corporate funders and postcards for smaller dollar donors.  You can also create an electronic version of your annual report.
Even if donors are active on email and social media, they are barraged with messages and may not see yours.  Keep them updated and show gratitude by mail, as well.
If some of this sounds impossible, I’ll offer suggestions on how you can print and mail with limited resources in my next post.

Photo by IA Walsh

One thought on “Don’t Give Up on Print

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