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Calendar Year-End

Calendar Year-End Prep: The 4 C’s of Direct Mail Appeals

You may be familiar with the 4 P’s of Marketing (or in some cases, the 7 P’s of Marketing), but have you heard of the 4 C’s of Direct Mail Appeals? In this day in age, acronyms and slogans get created and tossed around everywhere, so let’s break down what BCG Connect’s 4 C’s of direct mail appeals are. The 4 C’s are used to describe what your calendar year-end direct mail appeal (and every other appeal for that matter) should aim to be, which is: Creative, Clear, Compelling, and Concise.

Calendar year-end fundraising mail will be flocking mailboxes all over the world. From year-end appeals, to renewal appeals, to acquisition mailings, it’s critical to have your appeal stand out in that crowded mailbox.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the 4 C’s of direct mail appeals to improve the effectiveness of your calendar year-end appeal:

CREATIVE: What makes your organization unique? Why should someone donate to your organization over a different organization? Having creative elements makes your message appealing and draws the recipient in. Whether it is a standard letter or a self-mailer, it’s key to have creative elements to it. What defines the creative elements that are in the appeal? Well, you should first identify and focus on your target audience(s) and know as much as possible about those people – this helps with the creative process of developing a piece that connects, communicates, and engages each segment.

CLEAR: It’s important to be clear. That’s a very general statement, so being “clear” has been broken down into three categories:

  • Clear with whom you are talking to: is your direct mail appeal segmented? Do you have variable data? Have you personalized your messaging based on who you are talking to? Being clear with whom you are talking to is so important in your direct mail appeal because you need to connect with each recipient to inspire action.
  • Clear with what you are saying: make sure every sentence that is on your direct mail appeal brings value to the piece. If you took a sentence out, would the piece still make sense? Be clear with what you are saying so the recipient understands what you are telling him/her.
  • Clear with what you want the recipient to do: a call-to-action needs to be prominent, bold, and easy to understand. Having multiple call-to-actions dilutes the main, most important goal of the piece, which should be what the call-to-action is: what do you want the recipient to do when they are done reading the piece? Are you wondering if your call-to-action is distinguishable? Take a quick glance at your appeal – if the call-to-action jumps out at you, great! If it’s difficult to figure out what you’re supposed to do, you might want to go back and review it to make sure the recipient knows what action he/she should take after reading it. 

COMPELLING: What is your story? How do you tell your story about the impact that gifts make? How do you deliver that story? Storytelling is vital to developing a compelling appeal. To tell your story, it helps to know what your donors want and why they want it. It also helps to take a step back and think from your donors’ point-of-view. Perhaps, you could think, “If I were Donor A, what would I want to read on a direct mail piece? If I were Donor B, would I want to read the same thing as Donor A?” You must make your recipient believe your story and feel as though they are an influential character in that story so they are motivated to do whatever your call-to-action is.

CONCISE: Sometimes, to get a point across, people feel as though they need to explain every minute detail. However, less can be more for a direct mail piece. A great way of determining if you are being concise is to review your copy and figure out if every sentence is important to support the point you are trying to get across, or if it’s fluff that you can remove. Get straight to the point when it is appropriate and include support when it is necessary.

Calendar year-end is an ample opportunity to reach out to your donor base with a creative, clear, compelling, and concise appeal that stands out in a crowded mailbox. How do you get an appeal to stand out? BCG Connect’s creative group can handle all of that for you!

BCG Connect has been successful in partnering with our clients to create a personalized, custom approach to their direct marketing programs, targeting the right people, with an effective message, to reach their prospective and current donors. Connect with us to learn how we can help you identify, acquire, and retain your donors!

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BCG Staff Writer
Fundraising Possibility is in the Air

Possibility Is In The Air

The weather is warmer than ever, it’s light out earlier, and before we know it, the first day of spring will be here. Everything feels fresh and new once the weather is warm enough to not wear a coat out of the house in the morning. Don’t you agree? It feels like possibility is in the air.

And with possibility comes the opportunity for fundraising. While this can be a challenging appeal season, it’s also an opportunity to harness that feeling of possibility and be more creative with a campaign in order to bring in the essential funds that support our communities.

Two months ago, in January, I had the pleasure of speaking at the CASE District 1 Conference, introducing keynote speaker Dr. Talithia Williams of Harvey Mudd College. I told the crowd of more than 600 about an appeal success story of one of BCG Connect’s educational partners, Regis College, a university in the Boston area. This campaign was creative, ambitious, and very successful.

Every time I tell this story it tugs on my heart. And since the best fundraising campaigns reach both your head and heart, this is an all-star.

Below is an excerpt of the speech:

A few years ago, Regis launched a campaign to fund the full cost of iPads for all current undergraduate and graduate students. They would be given new iPads upon entering school and when they graduated they would take the iPads along with them on their next adventures.

As we all know, the cost of technology can be a serious hurdle for many young people, and Regis wanted to ensure that all of their students had equal access to this technology, no matter their economic status.

BCG Connect worked with Regis on this campaign to create personalized, targeted, direct mail marketing that honed in on the message of the need for universal and upgraded technology for all students on campus and how donors could make an impact on that need with their donations. Additionally, the campaign focused on prospects under the $1,000 level in order to try to engage that alumni group further.

Approximately 2,500 past and prospective donors were solicited as a part of this campaign.

The appeals had designs and imagery based on the graduation decade of the potential donor and the story was told through an emphasis on the advancements in technology since the donor’s graduation decade.

If you graduated in the 1980’s, you received this appeal – you can see how the photo from is both similar and different from that of the one from with the current Regis students and the iPads:

Regis Comparison iPads

The campaign was so successful that Regis was able to fully fund iPads for their current students long before the close of the campaign. Through those 2,500 appeals, Regis raised more than $51,000. By the close of the campaign, iPads for all future students were also fully funded ensuring that essential education technology would be available to Regis students no matter their financial hurdles and easing one of the many roadblocks students encounter on their way to success.

Our personalized, targeted, direct mail marketing for this campaign helped fuel the school’s fundraising to bring greater technological resources to their community. And since then, all Regis’ undergraduate and graduate students are given a new iPad when entering the school and then take it with them after graduation to keep using as a tool along their journey.

We at BCG Connect are thrilled to have executed this successful campaign with Regis, and so many other campaigns with other educational partners, strengthening their fundraising, and helping their communities in such broad strokes. We truly believe in the investment each of you have in your schools and communities and we look forward to helping strengthen your campaigns in the future.

As we go further into the warm weather, use your past successes to help fuel your creative drive this spring!

Looking for more inspriation? Check out our portfolio for more great ideas and contact us to learn more about how BCG Connect helped Regis strengthened this campaign.

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BCG Staff Writer
Fundraising Appeal Letter Hacks

Stand Out From The Crowd(ed Mailbox): 5 Fundraising Appeal Letter Hacks

Add some muscle to your next appeal letter to help it stand out in a crowded mailbox.

During the holiday season, everything that comes into your mailbox, from bills to credit card offers, are adorned in festive colors and glitter. So, it helps to add something special to an appeal letter to ensure that it will stand out from the colorful crowd.

Have your next appeal letter move into the spotlight, no matter the time of year, by including one or more of these strategies:

1. Include Images in the Letter:

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Adding photos to the body of the letter helps to give a face to the story, to the need, and to the reason a donor is giving. Photos also help engage a reader in the letter by helping them make a personal connection to it.

2. Add a Colorful Buck Slip Alongside the Letter:

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This mailing insert, approximately the size of a dollar bill (which is how it gets its name), provides room for additional graphics, images, and appeal information that can help enumerate the impact of a donation.

3. Use Color and Unique Typography in the Body of the Letter:

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By adding color and typographical emphasis, the reader can easily find the most important parts of your appeal letter. This also helps to break apart larger blocks of text to be easier to read and thus keeps their attention longer.

4. Add Artwork or a Tagline to the Outer Envelope:

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The envelope is an important part of the overall appeal package, but is so often overlooked (both during the design process and once it’s in the mailbox). The design of it helps to encourage the donor to open it.

5. Personalize the letter by including:

  • The recipient’s last gift amount: this helps to remind the donor of how much they previously gave and also gives them a point of reference for another gift.
  • A targeted ask amount: by personalizing the appeal letter with a specific ask for each letter, rather than a general ask, this helps to give the donor an understanding of how they can specifically help.
  • The recipient’s class year: by referencing a specific year, you help remind them of their experiences at the school and the reasons for giving back.
  • Add a P.S. line that repeats the call to action: use this important part of the letter to summarize the entire message – the ask, deadline, and call to action – so that when the reader’s eyes go to the bottom of the page, they have all the information.

What techniques have you used? These 5 ideas are just some of the wonderful strategies available. What have you found to be helpful?

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BCG Staff Writer