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

Calendar Year-End

We originally published Calendar Year-End Prep: The 4 C’s of Direct Mail Appeals in 2018. We updated it to reflect changes in direct mail.

In a recent post, we talked about our 4 P’s of direct mail marketing. But have you heard of the 4 C’s of Direct Mail Appeals? 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.

Previously, we saw the 4 C’s as Creative, Clear, Compelling, and Concise. Given the integration of digital and direct mail, we have updated our 4 C’s: Creative, Connect, Channels, and Clean.

What is a Calendar Year-End Appeal?

30% of annual giving occurs in December. A calendar year-end appeal is a type of direct mail or email that nonprofits send out in December. The goal is to encourage donors to give to the organization before the end of the year and help them get their tax deductions.

These appeals usually have a specific theme, such as “Give with confidence,” or “Give now and make your holiday giving last all year.” The appeals will often have a deadline for donations, such as “Donate by December 31st and we’ll send you a special gift!”

Now, we aren’t implying that our original 4 C’s are no longer applicable. We simply feel the relevance of the timing of year-end appeals deserves an update.

How “Create” Fits Into Your Year-End Appeals

We left the first “c” on our list, sort of. We’ll walk you through how this derivative of the creative trait works with the others.

Create a timeline to get you to the end of the year

In our last version of this post, we talked about the creative overall. This time we refer to create, as in creating a timeline.

Working backwards is the key to your calendar year-end timing. Our Account Managers at BCG are notorious for keeping clients on their timelines.

There are five key steps to this timeline, as illustrated below.

Calendar Year-End Roadmap

Preparing for Calendar Year-End Appeals

Now, let’s take a deeper dive into the remaining 4 C’s of direct mail appeals: connect, channels, and clean.

First, these three perform better when planned together.

Nonprofits have been using digital channels to connect with their supporters for years. However, in the past few years, digital channels have become a lot more complicated. You now need to use clean data that applies to your constituents and donors in order to maximize your ROI.

Connecting your donors throughout the year

Direct mail is one of the most cost-effective ways to engage donors. You can use it to build a long-lasting connection with your donors.

Personalized direct mailers are a straightforward way of connecting with your donors. They are remarkably effective in building long-lasting relationships with them. Adding variable data, whether it’s imagery or text, helps secure the connection.

Channels to integrate for a year-end campaign

Multi-channel marketing is a staple for marketers. For fundraisers, it’s imperative to get each channel to work with one another. As we talked about the timeline above, the timing of each channel plays a role in your overall campaign.

Timing is everything. Just as you have to plan your marketing in advance and follow up with donors, you also need to plan the timing of your messages for donor acquisition.

Each channel should complement the delivery timing.

For instance, digital ads should be in place prior to the direct mail in-home date. And an email should arrive three to four days after the initial direct mail piece. This provides a well-rounded integration of your channels.

Clean your data as soon as possible 

Researching your constituent base is an essential step in any fundraising campaign. Having a clean, comprehensive data plan is the key to success for your communications strategy. The cleaner your data, the more efficient your campaign will be.

Cleaning your data allows you to see what your donor base looks like. The clean data gives you a clearer understanding of which donor segments are most receptive to your appeals. In addition, this information will help guide you in creating more effective messaging for each channel.

In Conclusion: The Best Way to Prep for Calendar Year-End Appeals

The success of your nonprofit organization’s year-end appeal depends on whether you can maintain a connection with their donors. If you want to inspire your donors, then it is important to have clean data and create timelines that work with each of your channels.

Having accurate, clean data also allows you to connect with new potential donors you may not have information on.

BCG Connect is successful in partnering with nonprofits and education fundraisers 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 today.


Sign up to be notified when we publish new blogs and send out our newsletter full of helpful tips, tricks, and advice to supercharge your marketing.

BCG Staff Writer