By Peggy Calhoun, ACFRE & Steve Smith
The United States Postal Service (USPS) has filed notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) requesting rate increases ranging from 5.7 percent to as much 14.6 percent. New rates would take effect on August 29, 2021. The average increase for Nonprofit Marketing Mail would be 7.8 percent, with increases within categories ranging from 5.7 to more than 14 percent.
Mail volume in the past decade has decreased by 28 percent, or about 46 billion pieces, and continues to decline.
So what can Nonprofit Organizations do?
Here are six action steps:
1.Survey your constituents to ascertain their preferences for email vs. postal mail. If you reach most of your database by direct mail only, send a postcard to inform them of the adjustment the NPO wishes to undertake and ask your contacts for their emails. Most of them will understand, considering the rate increases you’re facing. The savings can help fund programs. And who doesn't want to do that?
2.Clean up your database and conduct an electronic screening. Secure missing information such as nine-digit ZIP codes, suite or apartment numbers, correct first name of spouse, published telephone numbers, email addresses, number of children in household, other homes, wealth indicators, and much more. From there, you will be better able to target your constituents. If you work with a mailing house or a printer or custom publisher with mailing capabilities, they can help you clean up your lists for better targeting and take advantage of all the various (and far too numerous to mention here) tactics in addressing and sorting your mail that can add up to considerable savings. This of course depends on the size of your list.
3.Conduct a communications auditthat includes a review of all the direct mail pieces sent over the previous year. Look for ways to eliminate certain mailings, or consolidate them. Lean on industry experts to find creative strategies.
4. Approach this as an opportunity to freshen up or completely revamp the look of your mailings. Direct mail is certainly not dead, and a well-designed direct mail piece can stand out in mailboxes that are far less cluttered. Determine how you can make every mailing more persuasive.Incorporate creativity into all pieces such as statistics, brief quotes, or photography. Talented and experienced graphic designers will work with you at reduced rates and can provide templates of their new designs for in-house staff to use going forward. That’s a big win!
5. Consider securing sponsorship of your direct mail.Put together a sponsorship package that includes support of outreach direct mail, or a “bundle” that includes email marketing with your stats to attract underwriters.
6.Explore alternative methods of canvassing, such as partnering with a hospital or bank that mails statements or newsletters. Your direct mail piece could ride along as an “insert.”
Read more: The NonProfit Times
Related topic: Content Marketing for Nonprofits
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About the authors
Peggy Calhoun, ACFRE enjoys over 35 years of experience in philanthropy, marketing and volunteerism. She was among the first fundraising professionals to receive the lifetime designation of Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive (ACFRE) and has raised millions of dollars in annual, capital and endowment funds for a diverse list of nonprofits.
Steve Smith is publisher/creative director and chief storyteller at Consonant Custom Media.
About Consonant Custom Media
Consonant Custom Media provides content marketing and storytelling for hospitals, health systems, nonprofits, foundations and others who want to make more meaningful connections with their communities of interest. We create original content that is truly consonant, or in harmony, with our clients' brand values and drives profitable consumer action.Clients use our original content strategically, to reach specific objectives in perception management, physician relations, service line development, sales and donor development.