October comes around, and the non profits are making their first of several strong pitches for another discretionary dollar donation. I find my mailbox full, and refreshingly, with some new twists.
Kudos to the team at St. Joseph’s Indian School who have brought in some new creative to overlay their basic control kit.
As always, the Dream Catcher is a unique keeper. I have several, which make their way to the grandchildren. But the kits also deliver more colorful coupons. We’ll see if they repeat…or does the sterile, sober-looking appeal still trump happy colors?
As yet, St Joseph’s is not twigging to my male gender: I am getting stunningly beautiful foil labels with flowers and butterflies. I can’t use these, not even on my golf clubs.
Another St. Joseph first for me: a pointy Post-It note. It’s a little different, and catches my eye.
Plus, I have received a colorful, feather-imaged gold foil, embossed certificate of appreciation, on laid stock, no less! Veterans of Foreign Wars sent me a similar recognition.
These certificates really are quite classy, as ‘thank you’s go. I am not going to frame them, but that doesn’t mean that someone somewhere else won’t frame theirs.
VFW also sent along a CD of Christmas carols! This may seem early to you, but actually is just in the nick of time: our new car no longer has a CD drive, but hey, it’s the thought that counts. I do have a cassette player in the basement, a.k.a., Santa’s Workshop.
Father Flanagan’s Boystown has sent me a Puzzles and Brainteasers booklet. You know, I mean to give it to the kids, but in an idle moment, I look at them too.
In an additional kit I was also treated to a colorful paper gift bag. These items show up across several charities, and I suspect there is a traveling paper bag sales rep who is shipping bunches of orders back to a printing plant in Shenzhen China.
Veterans of Foreign Wars has kicked the bag up a notch. They offer a full-sized tote as a premium with donation.
At the top of the pile however is Disabled Veterans National Foundation (not to be confused with Disabled American Veterans) which sent the whole bag, and a T-shirt, in a day-glo yellow max-sized envelope.
I am now thinking that there are regular flights for printing sales personnel from U.S. to Shenzhen.
Truly, the most impressive were printed plastic vinyl tote bags courtesy of St. Joseph’s, that aside from their modest size, sported quality designs.
There is an artful expansion of thinking on applying postage stamps to the reply envelope. Pasting real postage on a reply envelope is a riveting issue. Donors shudder to waste the stamps, and I am sure the charity’s accountants aren’t thrilled about giving away postage.
But here’s the thing–you may remember in my book Many Happy Returns, the story of the fundraiser who coaxed the donor to please supply their own stamps. The reply envelope said, “Your stamp will save us money.” In a manner of speaking, it did. Average dollar gifts rose 6%, but response rate dropped 15%. Go figure!
Anyway, the pioneer in applying the full 49-cents (or so) postage was DAV. They primed the pump, and happily cashed our flood of checks. We Baby Boomer donors can’t see a stamp go to waste.
But now, there are some diversions in the path.
VFW provides 5, one-cent stamps to the postage paid BRE, and the USPS will charge the rest. The modest nickel cost looks like a lot of stamps–but it’s not 50 cents’ worth. This effectively cuts VFW’s in-the-mail costs by $450 per thousand, while still appearing to offer the more expensive stamps.
St. Joseph’s sharpens their pencil a little more, and only provides 3 one-cent stamps, but adorns their BRE with a faux return address label in my name. How can I throw this out?
Not to be outdone, Father Flanagan applies 4 Greeting Stamps of no value whatsoever to their BRE, but they look great!
Who can deny the effort?
Throughout all of the recent spate of mailings I have received, greeting cards still predominate. I counted 46, all high production quality, and which are now stored in one of those pretty paper gift bags.
As well, I have been issued with numerous writing pens…lots of them, and some very tastefully designed, courtesy of St. Joseph.
And speaking of writing, I have a mountain of note pads, some die-cut, none of which can be discarded.
They get used. And when not, where do they go? Into a pen and pencil bag, supplied by St. Joseph’s! Wow, what’s next…a lunchbox?
There is an ongoing debate, stirred up by loyal donors about the exorbitant expense taken in these mailing pieces. How can a charitable organization spend this much, and then ask for more money?
The fact is, the gift strategy works. Especially if the gifts are exclusive and high quality. When they are accompanied by personal, expressive letters, the efforts are rewarded by donors who are sitting on, or searching, for the summit of Maslow’s pyramid: self actualization.
Thanks for reading, and sharing. If you wish to check on these charitable organizations, you can visit Charity Navigator, or the organization’s websites to see their financial disclosures and especially their direct mail fundraising performance.