How You Can Print and Mail With Limited Resources

In my last post Don’t Give Up on Print, I mentioned that some nonprofit organizations try to save money by cutting back on printing and mailing. That could be a mistake and I suggested you survey your donors to see whether they have a preference between print and electronic communication.
So now you’ve surveyed your donors and found many of them prefer to receive print communication, and you rarely send anything through the mail because you have limited resources (budget, time, staff).  What do you do?  Here are some suggestions.
Be smart
First off, figure out what you should print and mail.  I recommend mailing at least four pieces a year.  If not, you’ll miss reaching donors who don’t or rarely use electronic channels.
In addition, be smart about what you send out and who you send it to. If your fundraising letter isn’t generating the revenue you want, you might need to improve the content. You may also be sending it to a weak audience.  Mail to people who will be receptive to your cause.
Send out quality material your donors will want to read.
Increase your printing and mailing budget
Can you budget more for printing and mailing?  This is often not as much of a priority as it should be.
If you can’t increase your current budget, find additional sources of unrestricted funding to cover these costs.
DIY
With a good color printer and the right software, you can produce materials in house. Be sure they look professional.
Find a sponsor
You could get your invitations or annual report donated.  A print shop might do this.  It’s good publicity for them. You often get sponsors for an event. Have a sponsor cover the cost of the invitations, as well.
Put a donation envelope in your print newsletter
You might recoup the cost of the mailing, as well as raise additional revenue.  In my last post, I recommended organizations that feel really strapped send a newsletter with a donation envelope in the spring and a year-end appeal.
  
Use discounted mailing options
You may be eligible for special nonprofit rates. Special Prices for Nonprofit Mailers You could use standard or bulk mail for items that aren’t time sensitive, such as newsletters or annual reports. Factor in how long it will take to mail, so your spring newsletter doesn’t arrive in July.  Only use first class mail for appeal letters and thank you letters.
Recruit volunteers to help with mailings
Just make sure they do quality work and don’t slap on crooked mailing labels or write illegible thank you notes.
Different strokes for different folks
You may not need to mail something like an annual report to everyone.  You certainly shouldn’t mail one of those massive 20 pagers to all your donors.
You could send a four- page annual report to your major funders and a postcard annual report to the rest of your donors. 

Shorter is better, both to capture your donor’s attention and to save on printing and mailing costs.   

It’s possible to print and mail with limited resources.  It does take some planning and prioritizing, but it should pay off if it allows you to connect with more donors.

Photo by Reza https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

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